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Better cardiovascular health for patients with inflammatory joint disease

Project managers
PhD fellow


As a result of their disease, patients with inflammatory joint disease have a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular 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 cardio training 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 used to a small extent in the follow-up of cardiovascular risk for patients with inflammatory joint disease. It is therefore desirable to investigate the specific effect of high-intensity conditioning 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 purpose of the study is to investigate whether 12-week high-intensity cardio 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.


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

Recruitment of participants for the study has ended.


The study is a randomised, controlled study with 60 participants. Risk of cardiovascular disease is assessed based on blood tests, ultrasound of carotid arteries, measurement of arterial stiffness, blood pressure, ECG and questionnaire. Patients who agree to participate in the ExeHeart study are asked to complete a supplementary questionnaire 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. The patients are randomized to an intervention or control group. The control group continues with current practice (lifestyle advice and relevant medication), while the intervention group, in addition to current practice, carries out 12 weeks of endurance training. The 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 carefully monitored and will take place at three physics institutes in the Oslo area. After 3 and 6 months, the patients are called in for follow-up consultations where all examinations and measurements are repeated. The participants in the training group and the physiotherapists involved will, after finishing the training, fill in a questionnaire and conduct an interview where the focus is on the implementation of the training protocol, barriers and facilitators.