Exercise physiology in chronic mechanical circulatory support patients: Vascular function and beyond

Christopher S. Hayward*, Libera Fresiello, Bart Meyns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose of review The majority of patients currently implanted with left ventricular assist devices have the expectation of support for more than 2 years. As a result, survival alone is no longer a sufficient distinctive for this technology, and there have been many studies within the last few years examining functional capacity and exercise outcomes. Recent findings Despite strong evidence for functional class improvements and increases in simple measures of walking distance, there remains incomplete normalization of exercise capacity, even in the presence of markedly improved resting hemodynamics. Reasons for this remain unclear. Despite current pumps being run at a fixed speed, it is widely recognized that pump outputs significantly increase with exercise. The mechanism of this increase involves the interaction between preload, afterload, and the intrinsic pump function curves. The role of the residual heart function is also important in determining total cardiac output, as well as whether the aortic valve opens with exercise. Interactions with the vasculature, with skeletal muscle blood flow and the state of the autonomic nervous system are also likely to be important contributors to exercise performance. Summary Further studies examining optimization of pump function with active pump speed modulation and options for optimization of the overall patient condition are likely to be needed to allow left ventricular assist devices to be used with the hope of full functional physiological recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-298
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Cardiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Exercise
  • Functional capacity
  • Left ventricular assist devices


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