Physical activity is beneficial in several clinical situations and recommended for patients with ischemic heart disease, as well as for those undergoing cardiac surgery.
In a randomized controlled trial, 34 patients underwent coronary artery bypass grafting. A randomized control group (n = 15) submitted to conventional physiotherapy. The intervention group (n = 19) received the same protocol plus additional aerobic exercise with cycle ergometer. Pulmonary function by spirometry, respiratory muscle strength by manovacuometry, and functional capacity through 6-minute walking test was assessed before surgery and at hospital discharge.
There was significant reduction in pulmonary function in both groups. In both groups, inspiratory muscle strength was maintained while expiratory muscle strength significantly decreased. Functional capacity was maintained in the intervention group (364.5 [324.5 to 428] vs. 348 [300.7 to 413.7] meters, P = .06), but it decreased significantly in control group patients (320 [288.5 to 393.0] vs. 292 [237.0 to 336.0] meters, P = .01). A significant difference in functional capacity was also found in intergroup analyses at hospital discharge (P = .03).
Aerobic exercise applied early on coronary artery bypass grafting patients may promote maintenance of functional capacity, with no impact on pulmonary function and respiratory muscle strength when compared with conventional physiotherapy.