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  1. Amstad, Tabea MSc
  2. Taeymans, Jan PhD
  3. Englberger, Lars MD
  4. Mohacsi, Paul MD
  5. Steiner, Dieter MSc
  6. Wilhelm, Markus J. MD
  7. Hermann, Matthias MD


Purpose: 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).


Methods: 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.


Results: 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).


Conclusions: 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.