Diabetes, Heart, and Cardiovascular Diseases News Chronicle.      Article 319

The Risk Of Heart Failure Could Be Reversed In The Sedentary People With A High And Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Exercise


Heart failure is the most common reason for the hospital admissions in the people aged more than 65 years. The left ventricle of the heart pumps the blood (rich with oxygen and energy) throughout the body and to the organs including the heart and heart muscle.

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High and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise such as aerobic interval training can restore the elastic nature of the heart.

The sedentary lifestyle of a person can cause the stiffening of the heart muscles (including the muscles of the left ventricle of the heart) leading to a lower blood pumping action of the heart, a condition known as heart failure. The heart chambers of the people with a sedentary lifestyle were found to be nonelastic, small and unable to pump sufficient blood. Some of the symptoms of heart failure are.

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  • Difficulty in performing daily routine activities such as shopping, using steps and walking.
  • A cough.
  • Feeling of tiredness.
  • Shortness of breath.

In the people aged less than 65 years, the heart has the ability to change its size, shape, structure and its function. These features are impaired in the people aged more than 65 years. An earlier study shows a marked improvement in the cardiac compliance in the young people with one-year exercise training program. Heart chambers of the competitive masters-level athletes are more elastic.

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Researchers at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine (IEEM), Dallas, Texas, have conducted a study to find out whether the prolonged high and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can restore the elastic nature of the heart in the people with a sedentary lifestyle, aged less than 65 years and having a stiff heart muscle.

A study was done on 53 healthy participants aged between 45 and 64, with a sedentary lifestyle. Researchers grouped the participants into two groups. Participants of the "Study Group" are assigned to the high and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise which includes high and moderate-intensity aerobic exercises for two years. Participants of the "Control Group" are assigned to yoga and balance training such as balance leg and arm reaches, lunges and hops. The exercise regimen is with the following features.

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  • Performing a 30-minute exercise or workout. The exercise program includes a high and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (workouts) such as aerobic interval training.
  • In the high-intensity workouts, the heartbeat increases to 95 percent of the peak heart rate for four minutes followed by three minutes of recovery. This cycle should be repeated for four times (called as 4x4 or four-by-four interval training).

The following improvements are found in the participants of the "Study Group" at the end of the two-year exercise program.

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  • About 18 percent of improvement in the maximum rate of oxygen intake or consumption (VO2 max) during the exercise. The VO2 max can indicate the cardiorespiratory fitness of an individual.
  • About 25 percent of improvement in the elastic nature of the heart muscles.

The study has found a reversal in the damage to the aging heart with a two-year exercise program. But a person with a sedentary lifestyle should regularly perform the 4 x 4 interval training for at least four to five times in a week to reverse the damage to the aging Heart.

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This study shows that the non-competitive athletes, aged less than 65 years can also have the chambers of the heart with the characteristics similar to competitive masters-level athletes by doing high and moderate-intensity aerobic exercises.

The senior author of the study was Professor Benjamin D. Levine, MD, Internal Medicine and also Distinguished Professorship in Exercise Sciences, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Texas, the United States. The study was published January 8, 2018, in the Circulation. Title of the article was "Reversing the Cardiac Effects of Sedentary Aging in Middle Age - A Randomized Controlled Trial: Implications For Heart Failure Prevention."
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.030617

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Published on April 5, 2018


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