Is There Anything Exercise Can’t Help?

From the International Stroke Conference in San Antonio

Image courtesy of Flickr user Josiah MacKenzie (CC)

If you hate to get off the sofa, here’s some more news about exercise that you probably don’t want to hear.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA) is often considered a warning. By some estimates, more than half of those with a TIA will have a stoke within the next 5 years.  TIA shares a number of risk factors with cardiac disease, among them hypertension, smoking, diabetes, and cholesterol.  What’s bad for the heart must be bad for the brain too, right?

Right.  And now there is increasing evidence that what’s good for the heart must be good for the brain too.

A small study presented at the meeting showed that patients with a TIA benefit from the same type of exercise rehabilitation program that cardiac patients go through following an MI.  Fourteen post-TIA patients participated in a 6-week rehabilitation program.  Patients attended three 1.5-hour sessions per week.  Sessions included a warm-up, timed aerobic exercise, resistence training, and a cool-down.  Intensity progressed with patient tolerance.

The researchers measured changes in blood pressure, gait speed, and endurance.  At the end of 6 weeks, systolic blood pressure was decreased by 8.71 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure was decreased by 7.18 mm.  While the results were not statistically significant, study author Marieke Van Puymbroeck of Indiana University noted these decreases in blood pressure were clinically meaningful. Previous work has shown that a 5 mm Hg decrease in systolic translates to a 14% decrease in stroke risk, while a 5 mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure translates to an impressive 42% decrease.

While the findings need to be validated in a larger study that controls for changes in medication, it looks like there’s another reason to lace up those trainers.

— Kerri Wachter (on Twitter @knwachter)

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Filed under Cardiovascular Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, IMNG, Neurology and Neurological Surgery, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

2 responses to “Is There Anything Exercise Can’t Help?

  1. Wanting to be healthy and safer from traumatic health issues like TIA’s is one of the main reasons I took up running 5+ years ago. I can fully attest to it’s benefits and it’s value in lowering the risks of many life threatening conditions. Thanks for posting this.
    Happy running,

  2. I was reading another article explaining that although exercise can promote long-lasting benefits in some areas, it can age you in others. But I think it was just food for thought. I have found that even 15 minutes of exercise lets me relax a bit more the rest of the day.

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