Low frequency electrical muscle stimulation and endothelial function in advanced heart failure patients

Stuart Ennis, Gordon McGregor, Robert Shave, Barry McDonnell, Andrew Thompson, Prithwish Banerjee, Helen Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


AIM: Obtain initial estimates of the change in brachial artery endothelial function and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2peak ) with 8 weeks of low-frequency electrical muscle stimulation (LF-EMS) or sham in patients with advanced chronic heart failure.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Using a double blind, randomized design, 35 patients with chronic heart failure (New York Heart Association class III-IV) were assigned to 8 weeks (5 × 60 min per week) of either LF-EMS (4 Hz, continuous) or sham (skin level stimulation only) of the quadriceps and hamstrings muscles. Four of the five sessions were at home and one under supervision. Ultrasound images of resting brachial artery diameter and post 5 min occlusion to determine flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a marker of vascular function and peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak ) during cardiopulmonary exercise test, were measured before and after LF-EMS (n = 20) and sham (n = 15) interventions. FMD improved by 2.56% (95% confidence interval: 0.69 to 3.80) with LF-EMS compared with sham (P = 0.07). There were no notable changes in VO2peak .

CONCLUSIONS: Improvements in FMD with LF-EMS may have a clinically meaningful effect as higher FMD is associated with better prognosis. This is a preliminary finding, and a larger trial is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-731
Number of pages5
JournalESC Heart Failure
Issue number4
Early online date3 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Advanced heart failure
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Endothelial function electrical muscle stimulation
  • Neuromuscular electrical stimulation
  • Flow-mediated dilation


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