High-intensity training in patients with lacunar stroke: A one-year follow-up

Rikke Steen Krawcyk*, Anders Vinther, Nicolas Caesar Petersen, Jens Faber, Helle K Iversen, Thomas Christensen, Tobias Wirenfeldt Klausen, Christina Kruuse

*Corresponding author for this work


OBJECTIVES: Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for stroke. It is a challenge for patients to initiate and adhere to regular exercise post-stroke. Early initiation of home-based high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may engage patients in physical activity, improve cardiorespiratory fitness, and reduce risk of recurrent stroke.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Post-intervention follow-up of patients with lacunar stroke, randomized to three-months HIIT including weekly motivational calls, or usual care. At follow-up (six- and 12-months post-stroke), we investigated changes in cardiorespiratory fitness, physical activity, fatigue, depression, mental well-being, stress, cognition, cardiovascular function, and recurrent stroke.

RESULTS: We included 71 patients of whom 59 patients (mean age: 63.9 ± 8.8 years) completed six- and 12-month follow-up. No change was detected in cardiorespiratory fitness between groups from baseline to 12-months follow-up. At six months, vigorous-intensity activity (median hours/week [interquartile range]) was maintained in the intervention group (baseline, 0[0;2]; post-intervention, 2[0;3]; six-month, 2[0;4]) and increased in the usual care group (baseline, 0[0;1]; post-intervention, 1[0;2]; six-month, 1[0;3]), with no difference between groups. Vigorous-intensity activity declined to baseline levels at 12-months in both groups. Secondary outcomes improved from baseline to 12-months with no significant differences between groups. Similar rate of recurrent stroke (n=3) occurred in each group with a three-month delay in the intervention group.

CONCLUSIONS: Early initiated HIIT did not increase long-term cardiorespiratory fitness, but increased time spent doing vigorous-intensity activities post-stroke. Decline to baseline activity level at 12 months warrants identification of motivators to initiate and sustain physical activity post-stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106973
JournalJournal of stroke and cerebrovascular diseases : the official journal of National Stroke Association
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)106973
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Aged
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness
  • Cerebral Infarction
  • Exercise
  • Exercise Therapy/adverse effects
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Stroke, Lacunar/diagnostic imaging
  • Stroke/diagnosis


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