Benefits and Risks of High-Intensity Interval Training in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease

John C. Quindry, Barry A. Franklin, Matthew Chapman, Reed Humphrey, Susan Mathis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation is integral to secondary prevention in patients with coronary artery disease. Recently, the effectiveness and “superiority” of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a purported time-saving alternative to “traditional” moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) in cardiac rehabilitation. The rationale for HIIT adoption is, however, not fully substantiated in the scientific literature. Established guidelines for exercise testing and training, when carefully adhered to, reduce the likelihood of triggering a cardiac event or inducing musculoskeletal injury. Clinicians should likewise consider patient risk stratification and introduce HIIT as an alternative to MICT only after patients exhibit stable and asymptomatic responses to vigorous exercise training. Although HIIT adherence appears comparable with MICT during outpatient rehabilitation, compliance drops dramatically for unsupervised exercise. Despite the enthusiasm surrounding HIIT, its main advantage over MICT appears to be short-term exercise performance outcomes and indices of vascular function. Regarding benefits to cardiovascular disease risk factor modification, management of vital signs, and measures of cardiac performance, current evidence indicates that HIIT does not outperform MICT. Long-term outcomes to HIIT are currently uncertain and logistical constraints to HIIT incorporation need additional clarification. Based on these limited findings, derived from facilities and clinicians at the forefront of cardiac rehabilitation, the routine adoption of HIIT should be viewed cautiously. In conclusion, the current review highlights numerous specific research directives that are needed before the safety and effectiveness of HIIT can be confirmed and widely adopted in patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease, especially in unsupervised, nonmedical settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1370-1377
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2019


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