Background: Functional capacity (FC) correlates with mortality in various cardiovascular diseases. The aim of this study was to examine whether cardiac pacemaker implantations improve the FC and affect the prognosis. Methods and Results: We prospectively enrolled 621 de novo pacemaker recipients (age 76 ± 9 years, 50.7% male). The FC was assessed by metabolic equivalents (METs) during the implantation and periodically thereafter. The patients were a priori classified into poor FC (<2 METs, n = 40), moderate FC (2 ≤ METs < 4, n = 239), and good FC (≥4 METs, n = 342). Three months after the pacemaker implantation, poor FC or moderate FC patients improved to a good FC by 43%. The distribution of the three FCs remained at those levels until after 1 year of follow-up (P =.18). During a median follow-up of 2.4 years, 71 patients (11%) had cardiovascular hospitalizations and 35 (5.6%) all-cause death. A multivariate Cox analysis revealed that a poor FC at baseline was an independent predictor of both cardiovascular hospitalization (hazard ratio [HR] 2.494, P =.012) and all-cause death (HR 3.338, P =.016). One year after the pacemaker implantation, the eight who remained with a poor FC had a high mortality rate of 37.5% (P <.01). Conclusion: Approximately half of the poor or moderate FC patients improved to good FC 3 months after the pacemaker implantation. The baseline FC predicted the prognosis, and patients with an improved FC after the pacemaker implantation had a better prognosis.
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