Time course of exercise capacity, skeletal and respiratory muscle performance after heart-lung transplantation

N. Ambrosino, C. Bruschi, G. Callegari, S. Baiocchi, G. Felicetti, C. Fracchia, C. Rampulla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recipients of heart-lung transplantation (HLT) show reduced exercise capacity due to several pre- and postsurgical factors. The aim of this study was to evaluate the time course of exercise capacity, and skeletal and respiratory muscle performance in 11 patients (5 females and 6 males; age (mean ± SD) 38 ± 13 yrs) undergoing HLT. All of the patients were admitted to our institution for a rehabilitation programme after surgery, and were followed-up for 18 months. On admission, at discharge after an in-patient rehabilitation programme, and every 6 months, patients underwent evaluation of: lung function values; incremental treadmill exercise, 6 min walking distance (6-MWD); maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressures (MIP and MEP, respectively); and peak torque of isokinetic contraction of leg flexor and extensor muscles (IFX and IEX, respectively). On admission, patients had: reduced lung volumes as assessed by vital capacity (VC) (60 ± 15% of predicted); reduced exercise capacity as assessed by peak oxygen consumption (V'O2,peak) (40 ± 12% pred); reduced skeletal and respiratory muscle performance as assessed by IEX, IFX (48 ± 16 and 28 ± 12 Newton-metres (Nxm), respectively) and by MIP and MEP (54 ± 21 and 58 ± 19 cmH2O, respectively). Ten patients completed the rehabilitation programme. At discharge, no significant change in dynamic and static lung volumes was observed. However, nonsignificant increases in MIP, MEP, IEX, IFX, 6-MWD and V'O2,peak were recorded. After 6 and 12 months, indices of skeletal and respiratory muscle function and V'O2,peak improved further, but still remained lower than normal values. We conclude that in patients with heart-lung transplantation, skeletal and respiratory muscle function and exercise performance are reduced after surgery, that they may improve with time but are still less than normal after 18 months.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1508-1514
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • lung function tests
  • physical training
  • pulmonary rehabilitation
  • respiratory muscle training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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