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Electrical Muscle Stimulation and Chronic Heart Failure. By Gabriel Ausfresser University of Rhode Island BME 482. Overview. Introduction What is Chronic Heart Failure (CHF)? What is Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)? How does EMS relate to CHF? Research Experiment Hypothesis Methods

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Electrical Muscle Stimulation and Chronic Heart Failure

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Electrical Muscle Stimulation and Chronic Heart Failure

By Gabriel Ausfresser

University of Rhode Island

BME 482


  • Introduction

    • What is Chronic Heart Failure (CHF)?

    • What is Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)?

  • How does EMS relate to CHF?

  • Research Experiment

    • Hypothesis

    • Methods

    • Results

  • Conclusions

  • References

Introduction - CHF

  • What is Chronic Heart Failure (CHF)?

    • Heart cannot pump sufficient blood and oxygen to body

    • Results of CHF include

      • Enlargement of Heart

      • More heart muscle mass

      • Faster heart rate

    • Symptoms

      • Shortness of Breath

      • Fatigue

      • Weight Gain

      • Ankle Swelling

      • Coughing

      • Exercise Intolerance

Introduction – CHF (cont.)

  • CHF Statistics

    • 5.8 million people in U.S. have heart failure

    • 670,000 people are diagnosed every year in U.S.

    • In 2006, CHF contributed to 282,754 deaths


Introduction - EMS

  • What is Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)?

    • Technique of inducing a muscle contraction

    • Uses an electrical impulse from a device

      • Impulses mimic action potentials from Central Nervous System

    • Signals travel down a wire to an electrode

      • Attached to skin in close proximity to muscle that needs stimulating

Introduction – EMS (cont.)

  • Uses for EMS?

    • Electrotherapy

      • Prevent atrophy after injury

    • Muscle Strength Training

      • Targets a specific muscle to train

      • Used by athletes

    • Weight Loss?

      • Proven that EMS does not burn as many calories as a full-body workout

  • EMS devices are regulated by the FDA

EMS - Electrotherapy

How are EMS and CHF related?

  • Proven that exercise prolongs life of patients with CHF

    • Allows for more activity throughout the day

    • Unfortunately, most patients with CHF have other conditions

      • Make conventional exercise very difficult

      • Most patients will not have the desire to exercise

  • EMS can be used to exercise patients with CHF right from their homes

    • This seems more desirable for CHF patients

Research Experiment

  • Doctors Banerjee, P., Caulfield, B., Crowe, L., and Clark, A. conducted an experiment in 2009

    • Hypothesis:

      • A home-based EMS training program can effectively improve the health of CHF patients similar to standard exercise programs.

Research Methods

  • 10 Patients

    • Left ventricular systolic dysfunction with New York Heart Association Class II-III

  • 18 Week Training Program

    • 1st 8 weeks

      • EMS training – at least one hour a day for 5 days

        • 10 Electrodes placed on legs via tight shorts

        • 9 Volts, rhythmic pulses at 4 Hz, maximum current 300 mA

        • Stimulation of quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal, and calf muscles

Electrode Placement

Research Methods (cont.)

  • Next two weeks

    • “Washout period”

      • No training at all, minimal activity

  • Last 8 weeks

    • “Control period”

      • Returned to habitual activity

  • After 1st 8 weeks and after the last 8 weeks, a series of physical tests were taken by the patients

    • Peak oxygen consumption, treadmill walking time, 6-minute walking distance, quadriceps strength, and BMI


Results (cont.)

  • Based on the results:

    • Treadmill walking time increased

    • Peak O2 levels increased

    • 6-minute walking distance increased

    • Quad strength increased

    • BMI decreased

  • The results are seen after any type of exercise by anyone


  • EMS successfully increased strength of legs, increased endurance, and lowered the BMI of the patients with CHF

  • These results will keep the patient healthier and prolong the life of the patient with CHF

  • The patient can get an efficient workout without leaving her/his house.

  • Patients who have no motivation for exercise will be able to use EMS training with ease

  • Only in research phase, but EMS is a possible alternative to strenuous exercise in the future


  • Banerjee, P., Caulfield, B., Crowe, L., & Clark, A. (2009). Prolonged electrical muscle stimulation exercise improves strength, peak VO2, and exercise capacity in patients with stable chronic heart failure. Journal of Cardiac Failure, 15(4), 319-326. Retrieved from CINAHL database.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electro_Muscular_Stimulation

  • http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=337

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_failure

  • http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/library/fs_heart_failure.htm

  • http://www.brownchiro.com/physicaltherapy.htm

  • http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/.../HF_SignsAndSymptoms.html

  • http://www.topnews.in/health/physicians-uncertain-therapeutic-approaches-heart-failure-patients-21018

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