Peripheral and respiratory muscles in chronic heart failure

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It is well-established that in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), exercise is limited by fatigue and shortness of breath. The poor correlation between the fatigue and indices of central haemodynamic function might indicate that peripheral muscle alterations contribute to impaired exercise capacity. Intrinsic abnormalities of the skeletal muscles have been suggested as a possible explanation. Since the shortness of breath correlates poorly with changes in lung function, changes in the respiratory muscles have been investigated. Studies have demonstrated diaphragmatic myopathy and atrophy similar, in part, to the changes in peripheral skeletal muscles. In CHF, type I (slow twitch) fibre atrophy is seen in respiratory as well as in peripheral muscles. The mechanism of these alterations remains to be elucidated. Studies into the mechanism of muscle dysfunction in congestive heart failure are relevant to the prospect of treatment of the changes in peripheral and respiratory muscles.




Stassijns, G., Lysens, R., & Decramer, M. (1996). Peripheral and respiratory muscles in chronic heart failure. European Respiratory Journal. European Respiratory Society.

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