Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) causes profound functional limitations and poor quality of life. Yet, there is only a limited literature available on the role of exercise training. This paper systematically reviews the effects of exercise training on exercise capacity in PAH. Methods: A systematic search of databases (PubMed, CINAHL, CENTRAL, Web of Science and PEDRo) was undertaken for English language articles published between 1st January 1980 and 31st March 2015. Quality rating for all articles was done using the Downs and Black scoring system. Results: Fifteen articles of good (n=4), moderate (n=6) and poor (n=5) quality were included in the review. Exercise interventions included aerobic, resistance, inspiratory muscle training or a combination, for 6-18 weeks. Improvements were seen in exercise capacity (six minute walk distance (6MWD) and peak VO2) by 17-96m and 1.1-2.1 ml/Kg/min, functional class by one class and quality of life, with minimal adverse events. Conclusions: There is evidence to recommend the use of exercise training as an adjunct to medical treatment in PAH. More clinical trials and research are required to assess the effects of different types of exercise programs in patients with PAH, while focussing on strong exercise endpoints to quantify the improvements seen with exercise training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-341
Number of pages9
JournalHeart Lung and Circulation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01-04-2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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