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A Contemporary Review of the Effects of Exercise Training on Cardiac Structure and Function and Cardiovascular Risk Profile: Insights From Imaging

  • Alhumaid, Waleed1
  • Small, Stephanie D.2
  • Kirkham, Amy A.2
  • Becher, Harald1
  • Pituskin, Edith3
  • Prado, Carla M.4
  • Thompson, Richard B.5
  • Haykowsky, Mark J.3
  • Paterson, D. Ian1
  • 1 Division of Cardiology, Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB , (Canada)
  • 2 Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON , (Canada)
  • 3 Faculty of Nursing, College of Health Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB , (Canada)
  • 4 Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB , (Canada)
  • 5 Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB , (Canada)
Published Article
Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Feb 21, 2022
DOI: 10.3389/fcvm.2022.753652
  • Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Review


Exercise is a commonly prescribed therapy for patients with established cardiovascular disease or those at high risk for de novo disease. Exercise-based, multidisciplinary programs have been associated with improved clinical outcomes post myocardial infarction and is now recommended for patients with cancer at elevated risk for cardiovascular complications. Imaging studies have documented numerous beneficial effects of exercise on cardiac structure and function, vascular function and more recently on the cardiovascular risk profile. In this contemporary review, we will discuss the effects of exercise training on imaging-derived cardiovascular outcomes. For cardiac imaging via echocardiography or magnetic resonance, we will review the effects of exercise on left ventricular function and remodeling in patients with established or at risk for cardiac disease (myocardial infarction, heart failure, cancer survivors), and the potential utility of exercise stress to assess cardiac reserve. Exercise training also has salient effects on vascular function and health including the attenuation of age-associated arterial stiffness and thickening as assessed by Doppler ultrasound. Finally, we will review recent data on the relationship between exercise training and regional adipose tissue deposition, an emerging marker of cardiovascular risk. Imaging provides comprehensive and accurate quantification of cardiac, vascular and cardiometabolic health, and may allow refinement of risk stratification in select patient populations. Future studies are needed to evaluate the clinical utility of novel imaging metrics following exercise training.

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