Mild cognitive impairment is considered a precursor to dementia and significantly impacts upon quality of life. The prevalence of mild cognitive impairment is higher in the post-surgical cardiac population than in the general population, with older age and comorbidities further increasing the risk of cognitive decline. Exercise improves neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity and inflammatory and neurotrophic factor pathways, which may help to augment the effects of cognitive decline. However, the effects of resistance training on cognitive, functional and overall patient-reported recovery have not been investigated in the surgical cardiac population. This study aims to determine the effect of early moderate-intensity resistance training, compared to standard care, on cognitive recovery following cardiac surgery via a median sternotomy. The safety, feasibility and effect on functional recovery will also be examined.
METHODS: This study will be a prospective, pragmatic, pilot randomised controlled trial comparing a standard care group (low-intensity aerobic exercise) and a moderate-intensity resistance training group. Participants aged 18 years and older with coronary artery and/or valve disease requiring surgical intervention will be recruited pre-operatively and randomised 1:1 to either the resistance training or standard care group post-operatively. The primary outcome, cognitive function, will be assessed using the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale and cognitive subscale. Secondary measures include safety, feasibility, muscular strength, physical function, multiple-domain quality of recovery, dynamic balance and patient satisfaction. Assessments will be conducted at baseline (pre-operatively) and post-operatively at 2 weeks, 8 weeks, 14 weeks and 6 months.
DISCUSSION: The results of this pilot study will be used to determine the feasibility of a future large-scale randomised controlled trial that promotes the integration of early resistance training into existing aerobic-based cardiac rehabilitation programs in Australia.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) ACTRN12617001430325p . Registered on 9 October 2017. Universal Trial Number (UTN): U1111-1203-2131.