Improving cardiovascular health for patients with inflammatory joint disease

project manager


About the project

Patients with inflammatory joint disease have a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease as a result of their disease. Despite this, cardiovascular disease is underdiagnosed and undertreated in patients with inflammatory joint disease. Physical fitness is a strong, independent and modifiable risk factor for future cardiovascular disease. High-intensity cardiovascular exercise can increase physical fitness and potentially prevent cardiovascular disease, as well as promote quality of life and coping without causing side effects. However, exercise is not widely used in the management of cardiovascular risk in patients with inflammatory joint disease. It is therefore desirable to investigate the specific effect of high-intensity cardiovascular exercise training on physical fitness, cardiovascular health and disease activity in patients with inflammatory joint disease with a particular focus on the feasibility of such an intervention in clinical practice.

The aim of the study is to investigate whether 12-week high-intensity exercise training, in addition to current practice with relevant medication and lifestyle advice, provides better risk factor control than current practice for patients with inflammatory joint disease.

Who can participate?

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis and psoriatic arthritis are recruited from the Preventive Cardiac Rheumatism Clinic at Diakonhjemmet Hospital.

Recruitment of participants for the study has been completed.

Project arrangement

The study is a randomised controlled trial with 60 participants. The risk of cardiovascular disease is assessed based on blood tests, carotid ultrasound, arterial stiffness measurement, blood pressure, ECG and a questionnaire. Patients who agree to participate in the ExeHeart study are asked to complete additional questionnaires with background information, self-perceived disease activity and self-assessment of health. Physical fitness (VO2peak) is measured in a maximal exercise test (CPET) on a treadmill. Patients are randomised to intervention or control group. The control group continues with current practice (lifestyle advice and relevant medication), while the intervention group completes 12 weeks of endurance training in addition to current practice. Patients complete two sessions of high-intensity interval training (90-95% of maximum heart rate) and one session of moderate intensity (70% of maximum heart rate) per week. The training is closely monitored and will take place at three physical institutes in the Oslo area. After 3 and 6 months, patients are called in for follow-up consultations where all examinations and measurements are repeated. Participants in the training group and involved physiotherapists will complete a questionnaire and conduct interviews focusing on the implementation of the training protocol, barriers and facilitators.


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