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Special suit to help patients with heart failure

Motors for cardiac training: Patient Thomas J. wears the special suit designed to improve the fitness of people with chronic heart failure. | DHZB

In the video Thomas J. tests the Myosuit.

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Everyday activities such as standing up or climbing stairs become increasingly difficult over time for people with chronic heart failure. Researchers now want to test a suit that helps patients train their physical fitness. Like a pedelec, it amplifies the patient's own muscle work through electrical support.

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Regular exercise has a positive effect on the course of the disease in patients with chronic heart failure and reduces the likelihood of hospitalization. At the same time, patients suffer from breathing difficulties and are quickly exhausted. It becomes increasingly difficult for them to be physically active. DZHK scientists at the German Heart Institute Berlin (DHZB) now want to break this vicious cycle with the help of a special suit.

The "Myosuit" is put on over normal clothing at the hips and legs. Electric motors placed in a small backpack support the flexion and extension of the hip joint and the knee joints via cable pulls and passive elements, thus supporting the muscle work. Movement sensors control how strongly and in what sequence the suit does this. Patients thereby train their endurance.

Without regular training, patients with chronic heart failure risk muscle atrophy and often gain weight. The result is a progression of heart failure, up to and including failure of the heart.

A team led by Professor Volkmar Falk, Medical Director of the DHZB and Principal Investigator at the DZHK, is now testing whether and how the special suit can be used in patients with advanced diseases affecting the heart and lungs. The team then plans to conduct a study to show how the suit affects physical fitness compared to conventional physiotherapy.

Source: Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin