Exercise training modalities in chronic heart failure: does high intensity aerobic interval training make the difference?

Francesco Giallauria, Neil Andrew Smart, Antonio Cittadini, Carlo Vigorito
  • Neil Andrew Smart
    University of New England, Australia
  • Antonio Cittadini
    Federico II University of Naples, Italy
  • Carlo Vigorito
    Federico II University of Naples, Italy


Exercise training (ET) is strongly recommended in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). Moderate-intensity aerobic continuous ET is the best established training modality in CHF patients. In the last decade, however, high-intensity interval exercise training (HIIT) has aroused considerable interest in cardiac rehabilitation community. Basically, HIIT consists of repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise alternated with recovery periods. In CHF patients, HIIT exerts larger improvements in exercise capacity compared to moderate-continuous ET. These results are intriguing, mostly considering that better functional capacity translates into an improvement of symptoms and quality of life. Notably, HIIT did not reveal major safety issues; although CHF patients should be clinically stable, have had recent exposure to at least regular moderate-intensity exercise, and appropriate supervision and monitoring during and after the exercise session are mandatory. The impact of HIIT on cardiac dimensions and function and on endothelial function remains uncertain. HIIT should not replace other training modalities in heart failure but should rather complement them. Combining and tailoring different ET modalities according to each patient’s baseline clinical characteristics (i.e. exercise capacity, personal needs, preferences and goals) seem the most astute approach to exercise prescription.


Moderate-intensity aerobic continuous exercise training; high-intensity interval training; chronic heart failure; cardiac rehabilitation; exercise prescription.

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Submitted: 2016-06-23 11:21:57
Published: 2016-10-14 15:09:25
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