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Heart, Lung and Circulation

Impaired Balance and Gait Characteristics in Patients With Chronic Heart Failure

Published:February 14, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hlc.2021.10.015

      Background and Aims

      Heart failure affects most systems of the body and causes various problems in patients. Balance deficits and gait deviations can be a result of these effects. There is little information in the literature about balance and gait parameters in chronic heart failure (CHF). This study aimed to investigate balance abnormalities together with gait deficits for possible associations in patients with CHF and compare them to healthy controls.

      Methods

      Twenty-two (22) patients with CHF (59±2.5 years) and 22 age- and gender-matched healthy subjects (59.4±6.8 years) participated in the study. This study is a cross-sectional/comparison study. Balance was evaluated using the Activity-Specific Balance Confidence Scale (ABC) and the Mini-Balance Evaluation Systems Test (Mini-BESTest) balance battery, which includes the timed up-and-go test (TUG) and dual-task TUG. Gait analysis was performed using a Biodex Gait Trainer. Peripheral muscle strength (quadriceps muscle and handgrip strength) was assessed using a hand dynamometer and exercise capacity using the six-minute walk test (6MWT).

      Results

      The CHF patients had significantly lower Mini-BESTest total, reactive postural control, and gait stability scores, significantly longer TUG/dual-task TUG time, and lower ABC score compared to the healthy control group (p<0.05). Chronic heart failure patients also showed significantly lower gait speed, stride length, gait cycle and step length (p<0.05). Dominant-side quadriceps muscle and handgrip strength and 6MWT distance were significantly reduced in CHF (p<0.05). Anticipatory postural adjustments and sensory orientation did not differ between groups.

      Conclusions

      Our study demonstrated impaired balance and gait performance and reduced muscle strength and exercise capacity in patients with CHF. Cardiac rehabilitation including balance and walking training should be planned for CHF patients to eliminate balance disorders, gait impairment and prevent falls in this patient group.

      Keywords

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