Cerebral blood flow responses to exercise are enhanced in left ventricular assist device patients after an exercise rehabilitation program

Kurt J. Smith, Ignacio Moreno-Suarez, Anna Scheer, Lawrence Dembo, Louise H. Naylor, Andrew J. Maiorana, Daniel J. Green (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Cerebral blood flow during exercise is impaired in patients with heart failure implanted with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs). Our aim was to determine whether a 3-mo exercise training program could mitigate cerebrovascular dysfunction. Internal carotid artery (ICA) blood flow and intracranial middle (MCAv) and posterior cerebral (PCAv) artery velocities were measured continuously using Doppler ultrasound, alongside cardiorespiratory measures at rest and in response to an incremental cycle ergometer exercise protocol in 12 LVAD participants (5 female, 53.6 ± 11.8 yr; 84.2 ± 15.7 kg; 1.73 ± 0.08) pre- (PreTR) and post- (PostTR) completion of a 3-mo supervised exercise rehabilitation program. At rest, only PCAv was different PostTR (38.1 ± 10.4 cm/s) compared with PreTR (43.0 ± 10.8 cm/s; P < 0.05). PreTR, the reduction in PCAv observed from rest to exercise (5.2 ± 1.8%) was mitigated PostTR (P < 0.001). Similarly, exercise training enhanced ICA flow during submaximal exercise (~8.6 ± 13.7%), resulting in increased ICA flow PostTR compared with a reduced flow PreTR (P < 0.001). Although both end-tidal partial pressure of carbon dioxide and mean arterial pressure responses during incremental exercise were greater PostTR than PreTR, only the improved formula presented was related to the improved ICA flow (R2 = 0.14; P < 0.05). Our findings suggest that short-term exercise training improves cerebrovascular function during exercise in patients with LVADs. This finding should encourage future studies investigating long-term exercise training and cerebral and peripheral vascular adaptation.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Left ventricular assist devices, now used as destination therapy in end-stage heart failure, enable patients to undertake rehabilitative exercise training. We show, for the first time in humans, that training improves cerebrovascular function during exercise in patients with left ventricular assist devices. This finding may have implications for cerebrovascular health in patients with heart failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-116
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • blood flow
  • cardiac rehabilitation
  • exercise
  • heart failure
  • LVAD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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