Cardiorespiratory fitness, physical activity, and fatigue three months after first-ever ischemic stroke.

Larsson P; Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
Edvardsen E; Gay CL; Ursin M; Mack U; Lerdal A;

Topics in stroke rehabilitation [Top Stroke Rehabil] 2024 Mar 27, pp. 1-11.
Date of Electronic Publication: 2024 Mar 27.

Background: Research on cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) in relation to physical activity (PA) and fatigue after stroke is limited. Increased knowledge of interrelationships between these factors can help optimize rehabilitation strategies and improve health-outcomes.
Objectives: We aimed to: 1) evaluate CRF, PA, and fatigue, 2) characterize patients with impaired versus non-impaired CRF, and 3) examine associations of CRF with PA and fatigue, three months after first-ever ischemic stroke.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study CRF was measured as peak oxygen uptake (VO 2peak ) by cardiopulmonary exercise testing. PA was measured using accelerometers. Fatigue was assessed with the 7-item Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS).
Results: The sample (n=74, mean age 64±13 years, 36% women) had a mean VO 2peak of 27.0±8.7 (86% of predicted). Fifty-one percent met the World Health Organization’s recommendation of ≥150 min of moderate PA/week. Mean steps-per-day was 9316±4424 (113% of predicted). Thirty-five percent of the sample had moderate-to-high fatigue (FSS≥4), mean FSS score was 3.2±1.8.  Patients with impaired CRF (VO 2peak <80% of predicted) had higher body-fat-percent (p<0.01), less moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) (p<0.01) and a trend toward higher fatigue (p=0.053) compared to the non-impaired. Backward regression analysis showed that higher CRF was associated with more MVPA (unstandardized beta [95% CI]: 0.38 [0.15, 0.63], p=0.002) and less fatigue (unstandardized beta [95% CI]: -3.9 [-6.4, -1.6], p=0.004).
Conclusions: Stroke patients had lower CRF compared to reference values. Impaired CRF was mainly related to overweight. Higher CRF was associated with more MVPA and less fatigue. Exercise after stroke may be especially beneficial for patients with impaired CRF.