Cardiac rehabilitation, or guided exercise under direction of a physical therapist, is a valuable yet underutilized therapy for patients suffering a heart attack. Importantly, in those patients with ongoing risk factors related to obesity and insulin resistance/diabetes, aggressive cardiac rehab was recently shown to be especially effective.
Specifically, two groups of patients were enrolled in high intesity (5-7 days weekly of 45-60 minutes exercise) versus standard (3 days weekly of 25-40 minutes exercise).
High intensity patients lost more than twice as much weight over 5 months as standard patients (18 pounds vs. 8 pounds and had significantly greater reductions in 2 major cardiac risk factors — waist circumference and insulin resistance. At 1 year, both groups had gained a couple of pounds over 5-month weights, but total body-fat percentages in the aggressive group remained significantly lower than initial readings. Other cardiac risk factors changed too – including decreased insulin resistance, increased HDL (good) cholesterol, and decreased measures of insulin, triglycerides, blood pressure, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, and the ratio of total to HDL (good) cholesterol.
Overall then, patients who took advantage of their motivation after heart attack to aggressively address exercise goals reduced potential risk factors and set the tone for a healthier life. If you have been a heart attack sufferer, ask your doctor about cardiac rehab. If you are not a heart attack sufferer but have risks, ask your doctor about trying a program like this on your own.
*This blog post was originally published at eDocAmerica*