Weight training for patients with cardiac disease results in physical and psychologic benefits. This form of exercise has been traditionally initiated at least 4 months after a cardiac event during Phase III to IV rehabilitation. Because of the potential benefits of weight training, its excellent safety record in the literature, the reported small heart rate and blood pressure increments during modest weight training in patients with cardiac disease, and the trend towards more aggressive early rehabilitation of patients with cardiac disease, the current study was designed to determine the feasibility and hemodynamic responses of this exercise during early outpatient cardiac rehabilitation (Phase II). Thirteen men with documented cardiac disease and four with left ventricular ejection fractions of less than 40%, enrolled in outpatient rehabilitation 13 (± 6) days after a cardiac event. Weight training (chest press, shoulder press, two-leg press) commenced 38 (± 13) days after beginning rehabilitation. Average resistance during the first session was 22 pounds for chest press, 23 pounds for shoulder press, and 72 pounds for leg press. Patients performed one set of 10 to 14 repetitions for each exercise. After 6 (± 4) weight training sessions, average resistance had increased to 40 pounds for chest press, 39 pounds for shoulder press, and 129 pounds for leg press. During weight training, mean heart rate and systolic blood pressure increased by a maximum of 19 (± 7) beats/min and 21(± 16) mm Hg, respectively. No clinical complications or electrocardiographic signs of ischemia or arrhythmia were seen. It was concluded that moderate weight training is feasible and safe for selected patients with cardiac disease as an adjunct to aerobic exercise training during early outpatient rehabilitation.
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