The dysfunctioning of leg muscle is conjoined to the severity of symptoms in heart failure patients, states a new study.
According to researchers from the University of Leeds, doctors should not only treat the heart muscle in chronic heart failure patients, but also their leg muscles through exercise.
"Our main message is that exercise is safe and beneficial in patients with heart failure. By warming up the leg muscles properly, the exercise can be more comfortable and sustained for longer - affording great benefits for these patients," Dr Harry Rossiter from the University's Faculty of Biological Sciences, said.
The researchers measured responses of the heart, lungs and leg muscles following a moderate exercise warm-up in a series of experiments with chronic heart failure patients.
Using a near-infrared laser to measure the oxygenation of the leg muscles, they found that warm-up exercise increased the activity of skeletal muscle enzymes that control energy production.
However, this adaptation was less in patients with the most severe symptoms, showing that the heart failure condition had a negative impact on the normal function of the leg muscles.
"Many chronic heart failure patients complain of leg fatigue during exercise and this can prevent them from being active. Our study shows that by warming up properly, patients can improve the oxygenation and performance of their leg muscles, which is beneficial in promoting exercise tolerance," Rossiter said.