Effect of high-intensity interval training in physiotherapy primary care for patients with inflammatory arthritis: The ExeHeart randomised controlled trial

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Abstract

Objectives To assess the effect of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) delivered in physiotherapy primary care on the primary outcome of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) in patients with inflammatory arthritis (IA). Additionally, to explore the effects of HIIT on secondary outcomes, including cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and disease activity. Methods Single-blinded randomised controlled trial with 60 patients randomly assigned to either a control group receiving usual care or an exercise group receiving usual care and 12 weeks of individualised HIIT at 90%-95% peak heart rate. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, 3 months and 6 months post baseline and included CRF measured as peak oxygen uptake (VO 2peak), classic CVD risk factors, disease activity, anthropometry and patient-reported physical activity, pain, fatigue, disease impact and exercise beliefs and self-efficacy. Results Intention-to-treat analysis demonstrated a significant between-group difference in VO 2peak at 3 months (2.5 mL/kg/min, 95% CI 0.9 to 4.0) and 6 months (2.6 mL/kg/min, 95% CI 0.8 to 4.3) in favour of the exercise group. A beneficial change in self-reported physical activity in favour of the exercise group was observed at 3 and 6 months. The HIIT intervention was well-tolerated with minimal adverse events and no apparent impact on disease activity. Differences in secondary outcomes related to CVD risk factors, disease impact, pain, fatigue and exercise beliefs and self-efficacy were generally small and non-significant. Conclusion After 12 weeks of supervised HIIT delivered in physiotherapy primary care, patients with IA demonstrated a favourable improvement in CRF, with sustained effects at 6-month follow-up. Trial registration number NCT04922840.

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Nordén, K. R., Semb, A. G., Dagfinrud, H., Hisdal, J., Sexton, J., Fongen, C., … Tveter, A. T. (2024). Effect of high-intensity interval training in physiotherapy primary care for patients with inflammatory arthritis: The ExeHeart randomised controlled trial. RMD Open, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1136/rmdopen-2023-003440

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