People with heart failure tend to think that they should avoid physical efforts, in order to prevent the worsening of the already compromised cardiac functions. But a joint research carried out by EVGN scientists and other Italian partners proved that the opposite is true.
The investigation was performed by Patrizio Sarto from the Department of Cardiology and Sport Medicine of the General Hospital Noale-Mirano (Venice) – together with researchers from the Department of Laboratory Medicine and the Laboratory of Molecular and Cell Biology (Oncology Department of the Azienda Ospedaliera ASL 13) – in collaboration with a European Vascular Genomics Network (EVGN, www.evgn.org) group led by Roberto Latini from the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri (Milano). Regular physical activity performed at least three times a week by people who suffer from heart failure, of course under the supervision of an expert personal trainer, has the power to attract the endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) towards those areas where they perceive tissue damages, and where they are ready to heal the wound.
The investigation lasted eight weeks, during which the scientists examined 23 patients with heart failure, aged between 57 and 69. The volunteers underwent regular exercise (three times a week) under the control of a trained personal trainer, in charge of verifying a number of cardiac and body parameter to avoid the excessive fatigue to the participants. “Each session was one hour long” explains Patrizio Sarto. “But we did not monitor just the physical conditions of these subjects: we also took blood samples at four different time points during the two months of training. The analysis of their blood cells gave us critical information on the effects of the gymnastic on these people”.
After the first physical sessions, in fact, the blood of these patients showed an increased number of endothelial progenitor cells. What is the meaning of this observation? “These data – comments Latini – suggests that physical activity can mobilize and gather EPCs in specific areas where the cells are able to regenerate damaged tissues such as the cardiac one in people with heart failure. Besides, these cells can also promote the growth of injured blood vessels and increase the angiogenesis rate (that is the number of newborn vessels that sprout in these areas)”. The beneficial effects of exercising were certainly well-known. But the EVGN research presented yesterday in Toulouse sheds light on the biochemical mechanisms that make the regular physical exercise a highly recommended activity.
The European Vascular Genomics Network (EVGN) is the first Network of excellence on cardiovascular disease funded by the European Commission under the 6th Framework Programme "Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health" (Contract Number: LSHM-CT-2003-503254).
The Conference is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Laboratoires SERVIER.
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