Purpose: This study aims to assess whether a supervised exercise intervention of aerobic and resistance training can rescue prematurity-related cardiovascular impairments as assessed by functional CMR parameters.
Methods: Eight preterm and six healthy control participants of between 18-29 years of age underwent a Cardiovascular MRI (CMR) scan (3T) both at baseline and after a 14-week duration, 3 times/week supervised exercise intervention of aerobic and resistance training. Function and structural parameters were obtained from standard short-axis SSFP cine images with full-ventricular short-axis coverage. Strain and Time to Peak strain parameters were obtained from short-axis and long-axis SSFP images. Strain response to stress measurements were obtained from SSFP cine images acquired during breathing maneuvers of a 60s period of hyperventilation.
Results: There was a significant difference in ejection fraction (p<0.05), and end-systolic volume indexed to height (LVSVi) (p<0.05) between the control and pre-term participants at baseline. All of these differences were no longer significant after the exercise intervention. There was a significant increase in myocardial mass after the intervention in both the control participants (p<0.05), and the preterm participants (p<0.05). Time to Peak Circumferential (p<0.01) and Time to Peak Longitudinal (p<0.01) strain were both decreased in control participants after exercise intervention. Additionally, controls had a significantly more pronounced Global Peak Circumferential strain response to stress when compared to pre-term participants (p<0.05). After intervention, there was no significant different in strain response between the two participant groups.
Conclusions: A supervised exercise intervention of aerobic and resistance training led to improved cardiovascular health and function in pre-term participants. The improvement in strain response to stress, EF, ESV, and LVSVi that resulted in no significant difference in parameters between pre-term and control individuals may indicate an improvement in myocardial functional response following a 13-week exercise program.