Neuromuscular electrical stimulation and inspiratory muscle training as potential adjunctive rehabilitation options for patients with heart failure

Ross Arena, Sherry Pinkstaff, Emma Wheeler, Mary Ann Peberdy, Marco Guazzi, Jonathan Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aerobic and resistance exercise training programs produce an abundance of physiologic and clinical benefits in patients with heart failure (HF). Improved maximal aerobic capacity, submaximal aerobic endurance, muscle force production, perceived quality of life, and skeletal muscle characteristics are among the more established outcomes resulting from these rehabilitation techniques. Moreover, both aerobic and resistance exercise training appear to portend a low risk to patients with HF when appropriate exercise prescription methods are followed. While the aforementioned training techniques will undoubtedly continue to be at the center of a well-formulated rehabilitation program, other adjunctive interventions, which are presently underutilized in clinical practice, may prove beneficial in patients with HF. Specifically, both neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and inspiratory muscle training (IMT) appear to significantly improve several physiologic, exercise, symptomatologic, and quality-of-life parameters. NMES targets skeletal muscle abnormalities, whereas IMT primarily targets the weakened respiratory musculature, both often encountered in patients with HF. A PubMed search using relevant key words identified 19 original investigations examining the impact of NMES (13 studies) and IMT (6 studies) training programs in patients with HF. The resultant review (1) provides a summary of the original research outcomes of both NMES and IMT in patients with HF; (2) addresses current research gaps, providing a direction for future investigations; and (3) provides clinical scenarios where NMES and IMT may prove to be beneficial during the rehabilitation of patients with HF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-223
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • aerobic capacity
  • muscle force production
  • pulmonary function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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