Cardiac allograph vasculopathy (CAV) is a multifactorial disease process that occurs in heart transplant (HTx) patients and has both immunologic and nonimmunologic components. Exercise has been proven to reduce the progression of CAV. The extent to which high intensity interval training (HIIT) can be utilized and its efficacy for delaying CAV is still being researched.
A thorough search was conducted on three different databases including: MEDLINE-Ovid, Web of Science, and CINAHL. The keywords used during the search were “heart transplantation” and “high intensity interval training.” The search was narrowed to include only articles written in the past 5 years and articles published in the English language. The quality of evidence was assessed using GRADE.
Two articles were found that met inclusion criteria. The studies differed from each other in what was considered the control group. The Dal et al studycompared HIIT training to moderate exercise in a cross over trial with a 5-month washout period. Throughout the study endothelial wall damage was recorded. In the Nytrøen et al study participants were placed into a control or HIIT group. The HIIT group received HIIT therapy while the control was instructed to not modify their workouts for the duration of the study. At the end of the study endothelial wall measurements were measured via arterial ultrasound.
These studies showed that HIIT therapy can delay the onset of CAV; however, due to the inadequacy of one of the studies it could not be determined if HIIT was better than continuous moderate exercise (CME). The Dall et al group did not have the sensitivity needed in their measurements of the endothelial wall damage to determine if it was more effective than CME. To determine the possible benefits of HIIT more research needs to be conducted. Since CAV is such a risk to HTx patients the optimal exercise program to delay CAV is of critical importance.
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