Impaired aerobic endurance and muscular strength in substance use disorder patients: implications for health and premature death
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMedicine (Baltimore, Md.) 2015, 94(44:e1014) 10.1097/MD.0000000000001914
Abstract: Although substance use disorder (SUD) patients are documented to have an inactive lifestyle, which is associated with cardiovascular disease, other lifestyle-related diseases and premature death, evidence regarding their aerobic endurance and muscular strength is limited. Therefore, the authors aimed to evaluate directly assessed maximal oxygen consumption, walking efficiency, as well as maximal strength in a group of SUD patients. A total of 44 SUD patients in residential treatment, 31 men (31 ± 8 years) and 13 women (34 ± 10 years), were included and completed the physical testing. The patients were compared with an age- and sex-matched reference group. Male and female SUD patients exhibited a maximal oxygen consumption of 44.6 ± 6.2 and 33.8 ± 6.6 mL· min−1 kg−1, respectively. This was significantly lower than the reference group, 15% (P = 0.03) for men and 25% (P = 0.001) for women. In addition, the SUD patients had a 13% significantly reduced walking efficiency (P = 0.02), compared with healthy controls. The impairments in aerobic endurance were accompanied by significant reductions in maximal strength of 30% (P = 0.001) and 33% (P = 0.01) for men and women, respectively. In combination, these results imply that SUD patients have impaired endurance and muscular strength compared with what is typically observed in the population, and consequently suffer a higher risk of developing cardiovascular and other lifestyle-related diseases and early death. Effective physical exercise should be advocated as an essential part of the clinical practice of SUD treatment to improve the patient's health and consequently reduce the costs because of the high use of emergency departments, hospital, and medical care.