If you or a loved one has suffered a heart attack, it’s only natural to want to take things easy. But a growing body of evidence indicates that controlled exercise following a heart attack is a good thing and may reverse or prevent structural changes that typically occur in the heart tissue following such a major event.
A heart attack (also called a myocardial infarction) occurs when part of the heart’s blood supply is reduced or blocked, causing part of the heart muscle to become injured or die. Symptoms vary, with some people only noticing a slight pain or discomfort whereas symptoms in others can be very intense.
Following the event, the heart attempts to self-repair. Tough fibrous tissue accumulates at and around the site of the damage. This distorts the shape of the heart, making it stiffer, and limiting its ability to pump.
Physical exercise training after a heart attack has been shown to improve heart function, reduce the amount of fibrous tissue that accumulates within the heart, enhance the release of natural antioxidants and reduce oxidative stress.
Optimal intensity, duration and time to start training are a subject of debate. But if you have recently had a heart attack, think about getting your heart back in shape and talk with your doctor about what exercise is best for you.
Garza MA, Wason EA, Zhang JQ. Cardiac remodeling and physical training post myocardial infarction. World Journal Of Cardiology. 2015;7(2):52-64. Doi:10.4330/wjc.v7.i2.52.
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