In a study from UT Southwestern, scientists found a year of exercise training helped to preserve or increase the youthful elasticity of the heart muscle among people showing early signs of heart failure.
Heart failure happens when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support other organs in the body. Heart failure is a serious condition, but it does not mean that the heart has stopped beating.
Left ventricular hypertrophy is a thickening of the wall of the heart’s main pumping chamber.
This thickening may result in the elevation of pressure within the heart and sometimes poor pumping action. The most common cause is high blood pressure.
People with left ventricular hypertrophy in middle age are at a higher risk for the development of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
The term “ejection fraction” refers to the percentage of blood that is pumped out of a filled ventricle with each heartbeat.
Nearly half of all patients with heart failure have a normal ejection fraction. The prevalence of this syndrome is named heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
Previous research has found that exercise training reverses heart stiffening caused by healthy but sedentary aging.
However, whether exercise can also reduce heart stiffness in people at high risk for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction is unknown.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine whether one-year exercise training would reduce heart stiffness in people with LV hypertrophy.
They tested 46 people with LV hypertrophy. These people were assigned to either a one-year high-intensity exercise training group or an attention control group.
The researchers found that one year of exercise training increased max by 21%, whereas there was no strong change in max in controls.
Heart stiffness was reduced in the exercise group, whereas there was no big change in the control group.
Based on the findings, the team concludes that in people with mild heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, one year of exercise training reduced heart stiffness.
Thus, exercise training may help prevent the risk of heart failure progression with preserved ejection fraction in such people.
The study was conducted by Dr. Benjamin Levine et al and published in Circulation.
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