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Long-term Exercise Helps Heart Patients April 20, 2009

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Erica Cline at 706/828-2225.

Heart patients need consistency, long-term commitment to gain benefits from exercise

April 16, 2009 (AUGUSTA, GA) – Joyce E. Jones and Sherree Cooper are avid exercisers. They’re highly motivated, enthusiastic and most-importantly, heart patients.

That devotion to exercise will serve them well since a recent report from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland found that heart patients quickly lose all benefits of exercise once they call it quits.

Researchers tested 228 heart attack survivors by measuring the flexibility of an artery as blood flows through it. Most people have an expansion of about 10 percent, while the test subjects averaged about 4.2 percent.

Researchers split the patients into groups that either exercised or stayed sedentary. The subjects’ artery flexibility was measured before the start of the program and then at the end. Then, the exercise group was told to quit working out for four weeks.

The results were startling: In the group that didn’t exercise at all, dilation increased to about 5.3 percent, but those who worked out saw their numbers increased to more than 10 percent. A great result, but one that completely vanished after just four weeks of sedentary living.

Ms. Jones, of Augusta, is a recent convert to the benefits of exercise, having had four stents inserted at the beginning of the year.

“I was tired and out of breath all the time,” she said. “I didn’t know I had a problem.”

Now that she’s joined University’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program, the region's only such program to receive national accreditation by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, she’s seen the difference exercise can make.

“I just feel so much better,” she said. “I also know that this is something I’m going to have to do for the rest of my life in order to make this the life I want to live.”

Ms. Cooper, of Harlem, understands the benefits of exercise, since she’s been a devoted member of University’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program since 2004.

“There are certainly days when I really don’t want to do it,” she said. “But I know that I need to, and it makes such a difference in the way I feel.”

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