(Edmonton) A new study by researchers at the University of Alberta shows that for best results in stable patients after heart attack, early exercise as well as prolonged exercise is the key to the best outcomes.
Study co-authors Mark Haykowsky, researcher in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, and Alex Clark, researcher in the Faculty of Nursing, along with fellow U of A researchers Don Schopflocher in the School of Public Health, and Ian Paterson in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, as well as colleagues from Duke, Stanford and UBC, reviewed more than 20 years of trials. The study found that stable patients who have suffered heart attacks get more benefits for heart performance when starting an exercise program one week after the heart attack, than waiting a month or longer to begin rehabilitation. "While it's been shown that exercise has a favourable effect on heart function, it's also important to dispel the idea that what the heart needs is rest," said Haykowsky. The authors point out that, in fact, the heart will become better with exercise sooner and with continued exercise over a longer period of time.
"In the past, patients in Canada and the US have been told to wait for one month before beginning their exercise treatment and this treatment typically only goes on for about three months," said Clark.
Patients who begin an exercise program one week after their heart attack were found to have the best heart performance. For those that waited to begin their exercise rehabilitation program, the results showed that "for every week that a patient delayed his or her exercise treatment, he or she would have to train for the equivalent of one month longer to get similar benefits," said Clark. "Our findings suggest that at least six months of exercise is the most beneficial."
Exercise in this study is defined as aerobic exercise in a group setting to build up exercise capacity.
The researchers reviewed both benefits and harms of
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University of Alberta