Patients who experience heart failure now may be told to exercise by their health care provider to reduce artery stiffness. This new way of looking at exercise comes after research shows yet another way how moving more could help with recovery and prevent artery stiffness.
Generally, health care providers advise patients to get exercise to stay healthy. But until now, medical doctors previously prescribed bed rest to patients with heart failure, fearing exercise could potentially lead to additional health problems.
This new research from the University of Missouri shows how exercise can improve the health of blood vessels in the heart. The study comes from an analysis performed on swine, which have very similar blood vessels and heart muscles to humans.
How Much Exercise Is Needed?
Craig Emter, associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine led the study, which looked at three different groups of swine with coronary artery problems. One group was inactive, a second group exercised using intervals with a higher level of intensity for short periods intermixed with periods of lower intensity, and the third group exercised with a constant lower level of intensity.
The outcome showed that regardless of exercise intensity or duration, all groups showed improved health of blood vessels in the heart.
“People with heart failure cannot do everything that a healthy individual can, so the question becomes how much exercise can they handle and what type of impact will it have on their health,” Emter said. “We found that regardless of intensity level, some type of physical activity was good for heart health compared to no exercise at all.”
The study was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Although it was research based on findings of swine, researchers stress that the findings can be useful for human medicine as well.
“We now have a better understanding of how blood flows in the heart, the stiffness of blood vessels and the impact that exercise has on heart health,” Emter said. “Understanding the underlying science of the heart allows us to help improve the health of people with heart failure.”
Stiff blood vessels can block or impair blood flow to the heart, causing a variety of cardiovascular diseases. This new study shows the impact that exercise can have on the blood vessels and how important it can be to recovery in those who have suffered heart failure.