How Patients with Heart Failure Perform Daily Life Activities: An Innate Energy-Saving Strategy

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Background: Cardiopulmonary exercise test and 6-minute walking test are frequently used tools to evaluate physical performance in heart failure (HF), but they do neither represent activities of daily living (ADLs) nor fully reproduce patients' symptoms. We assessed differences in task oxygen uptake, both as absolute value and as percentage of peak oxygen consumption (peakVO2), ventilation efficiency (VE/VCO2 ratio), and dyspnea intensity (Borg scale) in HF and healthy subjects during standard ADLs and other common physical actions. Methods: Healthy and HF subjects (ejection fraction <45%, stable conditions) underwent cardiopulmonary exercise test. All of them, carrying a wearable metabolic cart, performed a 6-minute walking test, two 4-minute treadmill exercises (at 2 and 3 km/h), and ADLs: ADL1 (getting dressed), ADL2 (folding 8 towels), ADL3 (putting away 6 bottles), ADL4 (making a bed), ADL5 (sweeping the floor for 4 minutes), ADL6 (climbing 1 flight of stairs carrying a load). Results: Sixty patients with HF (age 65.2±12.1 years; ejection fraction 30.4±6.7%, peakVO2 14.2±4.0 mL/[min·kg]) and 40 healthy volunteers (58.9±8.2 years, peakVO2 28.1±7.4 mL/[min·kg]) were enrolled. For each exercise, patients showed higher VE/VCO2 ratio, percentage of peakVO2, and Borg scale value than controls, while absolute values of task oxygen uptake and exercise duration were lower and higher, respectively, in all activities, except for treadmill (fixed execution time and intensity). Differently from Borg Scale data, metabolic values and exercise time length changed in parallel with HF severity, except for ADL duration in very short (ADL3) and composite (ADL1) activities. Borg scale values correlated with percentage of peakVO2. Conclusions: During ADLs, patients self-regulated activities in parallel with HF severity by decreasing intensity (VO2) and prolonging the effort.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7503
Pages (from-to)561-573
Number of pages13
JournalCirculation: Heart Failure
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • activities of daily living
  • dyspnea
  • exercise
  • heart failure
  • oxygen consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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