The physiological and clinical importance of cardiorespiratory fitness in people with abdominal aortic aneurysm

Maria Perissiou, Tom G. Bailey, Zoe L. Saynor, Anthony Shepherd, Amy E. Harwood, Christopher D. Askew

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    2 Citations (Scopus)
    81 Downloads (Pure)


    New Findings: What is the topic of this review? This review focuses on the physiological impact of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) on cardiorespiratory fitness and the negative consequences of low fitness on clinical outcomes in AAA. We also discuss the efficacy of exercise training for improving cardiorespiratory fitness in AAA. What advances does it highlight? We demonstrate the negative impact of low fitness on disease progression and clinical outcomes in AAA. We highlight potential mechanistic determinants of low fitness in AAA and present evidence that exercise training can be an effective treatment strategy for improving cardiorespiratory fitness, postoperative mortality and disease progression. Abstract: An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is an abnormal enlargement of the aorta, below the level of the renal arteries, where the aorta diameter increases by >50%. As an aneurysm increases in size, there is a progressive increase in the risk of rupture, which ranges from 25 to 40% for aneurysms >5.5 cm in diameter. People with AAA are also at a heightened risk of cardiovascular events and associated mortality. Cardiorespiratory fitness is impaired in people with AAA and is associated with poor (postoperative) clinical outcomes, including increased length of hospital stay and postoperative mortality after open surgical or endovascular AAA repair. Although cardiorespiratory fitness is a well‐recognized prognostic marker of cardiovascular health and mortality, it is not assessed routinely, nor is it included in current clinical practice guidelines for the management of people with AAA. In this review, we discuss the physiological impact of AAA on cardiorespiratory fitness, in addition to the consequences of low cardiorespiratory fitness on clinical outcomes in people with AAA. Finally, we summarize current evidence for the effect of exercise training interventions on cardiorespiratory fitness in people with AAA, including the associated improvements in postoperative mortality, AAA growth and cardiovascular risk. Based on this review, we propose that cardiorespiratory fitness should be considered as part of the routine risk assessment and monitoring of people with AAA and that targeting improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness with exercise training might represent a viable adjunct treatment strategy for reducing postoperative mortality and disease progression.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)283-298
    Number of pages16
    JournalExperimental Physiology
    Issue number4
    Early online date28 Feb 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022

    Bibliographical note

    This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.


    • abdominal aortic aneurysm
    • aneurysm progression
    • cardiorespiratory fitness
    • oxygen delivery
    • oxygen utilisation


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