The aim of this study was to investigate changes in exercise capacity (EC) and quality of life (QoL) of patients with ventricular assist devices (VADs) during cardiac rehabilitation (CR).
Data from patients with VAD implantation and subsequent CR between 2007 and 2017 were analyzed retrospectively. Measures of the 6-min walk test [6MWT] distance, Functional Independence Measure [FIM], ergometry, MacNew Heart Disease Questionnaire [MNH], and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS] at entry and discharge were examined.
Data from 110 patients (age 53 ± 12 yr; male 82%) were analyzed. Patients improved during CR significantly in the 6MWT (114 ± 85 m, P < .001), ergometry (20 ± 17 W, P = .002), FIM (8 ± 7 points, P < .001), and MNH (0.8 ± 0.7 points, P < .001). Initial HADS levels were high with a mean value of 9 and did not improve during CR (−0.4 ± 5 points, P = .637). Significant differences of improvements in the 6MWT were observed between left and biventricular VAD (129 ± 90 m vs 85 ± 67 m, P = .043) as well as destination therapy and bridge-to-transplant (184 ± 88 m vs 102 ± 82 m, P = .005).
Patients with VAD implantation had statistically and clinically significant improvements in EC and QoL as assessed with the MNH during CR. Patients on destination therapy showed a larger benefit from CR than bridge-to-transplant patients and patients with left VAD improved more than biventricular VAD patients.