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Association of preoperative high-intensity interval training with cardiorespiratory fitness and postoperative outcomes among adults undergoing major surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis [with consumer summary]
Clifford K, Woodfield JC, Tait W, Campbell HA, Baldi JC
JAMA Network Open 2023 Jun;6(6):e2320527
systematic review

IMPORTANCE: Preoperative high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is associated with improved cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and may improve surgical outcomes. OBJECTIVES: To summarize data from studies comparing the association of preoperative HIIT versus standard hospital care with preoperative CRF and postoperative outcomes. DATA SOURCES: Data sources included Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials Library, and Scopus databases with no language constraints, including abstracts and articles published before May 2023. STUDY SELECTION: The databases were searched for randomized clinical trials and prospective cohort studies with HIIT protocols in adult patients undergoing major surgery. Thirty-four of 589 screened studies met initial selection criteria. DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: A meta-analysis was performed according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Data were extracted by multiple independent observers and pooled in a random-effects model. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary outcome was change in CRF, as measured by either peak oxygen consumption (Vo2 peak) or 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) distance. Secondary outcomes included postoperative complications; hospital length of stay (LOS); and changes in quality of life, anaerobic threshold, and peak power output. RESULTS: Twelve eligible studies including 832 patients were identified. Pooled results indicated several positive associations for HIIT when compared with standard care either on CRF (Vo2 peak, 6MWT, anaerobic threshold, or peak power output) or postoperative outcomes (complications, LOS, quality of life), although there was significant heterogeneity in study results. In 8 studies including 627 patients, there was moderate-quality evidence of significant improvement in Vo2 peak (cumulative mean difference, 2.59 mL/kg/min, 95% CI 1.52 to 3.65 mL/kg/min, p < 0.001). In 8 studies including 770 patients, there was moderate-quality evidence of a significant reduction in complications (odds ratio, 0.44, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.60, p < 0.001). There was no evidence that HIIT differed from standard care in hospital LOS (cumulative mean difference -3.06 days, 95% CI -6.41 to 0.29 days, p = 0.07). The analysis showed a high degree of heterogeneity in study outcomes and an overall low risk of bias. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The results of this meta-analysis suggest that preoperative HIIT may be beneficial for surgical populations through the improvement of exercise capacity and reduced postoperative complications. These findings support including HIIT in prehabilitation programs before major surgery. The high degree of heterogeneity in both exercise protocols and study results supports the need for further prospective, well-designed studies.

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