Improving functional capacity in heart failure: The need for a multifaceted approach

Ross Arena, Lawrence P. Cahalin, Audrey Borghi-Silva, Shane A. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Functional capacity is a broad term that describes a person's ability to perform the daily activities that require physical exertion. Patients diagnosed with heart failure, regardless of cause, demonstrate a compromised functional capacity. The ability to perform aerobic activities is a central, but not complete, determinant of functional capacity. Muscular strength and endurance are other important elements of functional capacity. It is well established that patients with heart failure demonstrate attenuated muscular strength and endurance as a consequence of their disease process. Typically, a heart failure patient's ability to perform daily activities that are either aerobic or resistive in nature is compromised and contributes to the decline in functional capacity. RECENT FINDINGS: There is an abundance of literature demonstrating that exercise training improves aerobic capacity and muscular strength and endurance in those with heart failure. These training benefits translate to an improvement in functional capacity and an enhanced ability to perform activities of daily living. There are several approaches to exercise training in the heart failure population, each of which has implications for the degree to which functional capacity can be improved. SUMMARY: This review summarizes the current body of literature related to exercise training as a means of optimizing functional capacity in patients with heart failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-474
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent opinion in cardiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • aerobic capacity
  • exercise training
  • heart failure
  • muscle endurance
  • muscle strength
  • rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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