Objective The aim of this study was to undertake a contemporary review of the impact of exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation (CR) targeted at patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). Methods We conducted searches of PubMED, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library of Controlled Trials (up until 30 November 2017) using key terms related to exercise-based CR and AF. Randomised and non-randomised controlled trials were included if they compared the effects of an exercise-based CR intervention to a no exercise or usual care control group. Meta-analyses of outcomes were conducted where appropriate. Results The nine randomised trials included 959 (483 exercise-based CR vs 476 controls) patients with various types of AF. Compared with control, pooled analysis showed no difference in all-cause mortality (risk ratio (RR) 1.08, 95% CI 0.77 to 1.53, p=0.64) following exercise-based CR. However, there were improvements in health-related quality of life (mean SF-36 mental component score (MCS): 4.00, 95% CI 0.26 to 7.74; p=0.04 and mean SF-36 physical component score: 1.82, 95% CI 0.06 to 3.59; p=0.04) and exercise capacity (mean peak VO 2 : 1.59 ml/kg/min, 95% CI 0.11 to 3.08; p=0.04; mean 6 min walk test: 46.9 m, 95% CI 26.4 to 67.4; p<0.001) with exercise-based CR. Improvements were also seen in AF symptom burden and markers of cardiac function. Conclusions Exercise capacity, cardiac function, symptom burden and health-related quality of life were improved with exercise-based CR in the short term (up to 6 months) targeted at patients with AF. However, high-quality multicentre randomised trials are needed to clarify the impact of exercise-based CR on key patient and health system outcomes (including health-related quality of life, mortality, hospitalisation and costs) and how these effects may vary across AF subtypes.
- atrial fibrillation
- exercise training
- health-related quality of life
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine