Objective To determine safety and efficacy of cardiac rehabilitation (CR) initiated immediately following balloon pulmonary angioplasty (BPA) in patients with inoperable chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) who presented with continuing exercise intolerance and symptoms on effort even after a course of BPA; 2-8 sessions/patient. Methods Forty-one consecutive patients with inoperable CTEPH who underwent their final BPA with improved resting mean pulmonary arterial pressure of 24.7±5.5 mm Hg and who suffered remaining exercise intolerance were prospectively studied. Participants were divided into two groups just after the final BPA (6.8±2.3 days): patients with (CR group, n=17) or without (non-CR group, n=24) participation in a 12-week CR of 1-week inhospital training followed by an 11-week outpatient programme. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing, haemodynamics, and quality of life (QOL) were assessed before and after CR. Results No significant between-group differences were found for any baseline characteristics. At week 12, peak oxygen uptake (VO 2), per cent predicted peak VO 2 (70.7±9.4% to 78.2±12.8%, p<0.01), peak workload, and oxygen pulse significantly improved in the CR group compared with the non-CR group, with a tendency towards improvement in mental health-related QOL. Quadriceps strength and heart failure (HF) symptoms (WHO functional class, 2.2-1.8, p=0.01) significantly improved within the CR group. During the CR, no patient experienced adverse events or deterioration of right-sided HF or haemodynamics as confirmed via catheterisation. Conclusions The combination of BPA and subsequent CR is a new treatment strategy for inoperable CTEPH to improve exercise capacity to near-normal levels and HF symptoms, with a good safety profile.
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