Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The American journal of cardiology


The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that an individualized exercise training target heart rate (HR) based on a maximal graded exercise test (GXT) is associated with greater improvements in exercise tolerance during cardiac rehabilitation (CR) compared with no GXT. In this retrospective study, we identified patients who completed 9 to 36 visits of CR between 2001 and 2016, with a length of stay ≤18 weeks and a visit frequency of 1 to 3 days per week. Patients were grouped based on whether their exercise was guided by a target HR determined from a GXT. To assess the relation between GXT and change in exercise training metabolic equivalents of task (METs), we used generalized linear models adjusted for age, gender, race, referral reason, CR visits, CR frequency, METs at start, CR location, and year of participation. Out of 4,455 patients (37% female, 48% White, median age = 62 years), 53% were prescribed a target HR based on a GXT. Compared with no GXT, a GXT was associated with a significantly greater increase in covariate-adjusted METs during CR and percentage change from start (+0.44 METs [95% confidence interval [CI] 0.38 to 0.51] and +17% [95% CI 14% to 19%], respectively). In a sensitivity analysis limited to patients with 24 to 36 visits at ≥2 days per week (n = 1,319), a GXT was associated with a significantly greater increase in covariate-adjusted exercise training METs (+0.51 [95% CI 0.36 to 0.66]; +19% [95% CI 13% to 24%]). In conclusion, to maximize the potential increase in exercise capacity during CR, patients should undergo a GXT to determine an individualized exercise training target HR.

Medical Subject Headings

Cardiac Rehabilitation; Exercise Test; Exercise Therapy; Exercise Tolerance; Female; Humans; Male; Metabolic Equivalent; Middle Aged; Retrospective Studies

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print



First Page


Last Page




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.