Physical exercise can improve the health of blood vessels in the heart for people with heart failure.
The finding, by a research team at University of Missouri, could offer an alternative to the most common treatment – bed rest – prescribed by physicians to those with heart failure.
"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," said Craig Emter, the study's author.
"We found that regardless of intensity level, some type of physical activity was good for heart health compared to no exercise at all."
The findings were based on a study looking at swine, which have very similar blood vessels and heart muscles – both structurally and functionally – as humans.
The team, led by Emter, studied three different groups of swine with heart failure: one group was inactive; a second group exercised using intervals with a higher level of intensity for short periods of time, intermixed with periods of lower intensity; and the third group exercised with a constant lower level of intensity.
Emter found that regardless of exercise intensity or duration, any level of exercise resulted in improved health of blood vessels in the heart.
"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 added.
"Understanding the underlying science of the heart allows us to help improve the health of people with heart failure."
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