1. Bjarnason-Wehrens, Birna PhD
  2. Schwaab, Bernhard PhD, MD
  3. Reiss, Nils PhD, MD
  4. Schmidt, Thomas PhD


Purpose: Current guidelines recommend individually adapted resistance training (RT) as a part of the exercise regime in patients with cardiovascular diseases. The aim of this review was to provide insights into current knowledge and understanding of how useful, feasible, safe, and effective RT is in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), heart failure (HF), and valvular heart disease (VHD), with particular emphasis on the role of RT in elderly and/or frail patients.


Review Methods: A review based on an intensive literature search: systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in 2010 or later; recent studies not integrated into meta-analyses or systematic reviews; additional manual searches.


Summary: The results highlight the evaluation of effects and safety of RT in patients with CAD and HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) in numerous meta-analyses. In contrast, few studies have focused on RT in patients with HF with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) or VHD. Furthermore, few studies have addressed the feasibility and impact of RT in elderly cardiac patients, and data on the efficacy and safety of RT in frail elderly patients are limited. The review results underscore the high prevalence of age-related sarcopenia, disease-related skeletal muscle deconditioning, physical limitations, and frailty in older patients with cardiovascular diseases (CVD). They underline the need for individually tailored exercise concepts, including RT, aimed at improving functional status, mobility, physical performance and muscle strength in older patients. Furthermore, the importance of the use of assessment tools to diagnose frailty, mobility/functional capacity, and physical performance in the elderly admitted to cardiac rehabilitation is emphasized.