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01.01.2012 | Review Article | Ausgabe 1/2012

Sports Medicine 1/2012

Endurance Exercise Intensity Determination in the Rehabilitation of Coronary Artery Disease Patients

A Critical Re-Appraisal of Current Evidence

Sports Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2012
PhD Dr Dominique Hansen, An Stevens, Bert O. Eijnde, Paul Dendale


In the care of coronary artery disease (CAD) patients, the benefits of exercise therapy are generally established. Even though the selected endurance exercise intensity might affect medical safety, therapy adherence and effectiveness in the rehabilitation of CAD patients in how to determine endurance exercise intensity properly remains difficult. The aim of this review is to describe the available methods for endurance exercise intensity determination in the rehabilitation of CAD patients, accompanied with their (dis)advantages, validity and reproducibility. In general, endurance exercise intensity can objectively be determined in CAD patients by calculating a fraction of maximal exercise tolerance and/or determining ventilatory threshold after execution of a cardiopulmonary exercise test with ergospirometry. This can be translated to a corresponding training heart rate (HR) or workload. In the absence of ergospirometry equipment, target exercise HR can be calculated directly by different ways (fraction of maximal HR and/or Karvonen formula), and/or anaerobic threshold can be determined. However, the use of HR for determining exercise intensity during training sessions seems complicated, because many factors/conditions affect the HR. In this regard, proper standardization of the exercise sessions, as well as exercise testing, might be required to improve the accuracy of exercise intensity determination. Alternatively, subjective methods for the determination of endurance exercise intensity in CAD patients, such as the Borg ratings of perceived exertion and the talk test, have been developed. However, these methods lack proper validity and reliability to determine endurance exercise intensity in CAD patients. In conclusion, a practical and systematic approach for the determination of endurance exercise intensity in CAD patients is presented in this article.

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