Exercise helps, even when doctors do their best

One thing that motivated me to exercise and lose weight was a small heart attack I had several years ago.

I read a study from Germany, where people with coronary heart disease (artery blockages) were either assigned to get an angioplasty (the cardiologists use a balloon to open up the blocked vessels by threading a catheter up from the groin) or a supervised exercise program where patients were exercised up 70% of the heart rate that caused them to have chest pain or other symptoms.   They were asked to do this at home daily for 20 min on an exercise bicycle, and come to clinic once a week for a group training session of 1 hour.   In the exercise group, not surprisingly, patients were gradually able to exercise at higher levels… and, the exercise patients did better in the following months than the angioplasty patients!

Exercise training was associated with a higher event-free survival (88% versus 70% …)(death of cardiac cause, stroke, CABG, angioplasty, acute myocardial infarction, and worsening angina with objective evidence resulting in hospitalization).

Mayo Clinic researchers have shown now that even after patients get an angioplasty (with or without a stent to help prop the vessel open), they are less likely to die if they enroll in a similar program of cardiac rehabilitation after their procedure.

Bottom line:  Physicians can do procedures and prescribe medicines to reduce your risks, but your decisions to exercise and make proper food choices are probably at least as important. More importantly, exercise and proper food choices are much less expensive and carry lower risks!


Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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