London: Regular and
vigorous exercise can activate dormant stem cells in the heart,
which heal the damage caused by a heart attack, says a new study.
The study by Liverpool John Moores University is the first to
suggest that a simple exercise programme has an effect similar to
that of the stem cells, when they are cajoled into producing new
tissues through special shots.
Strenous exercises includes 30 minutes of running or cycling
daily, enough to work up a sweat, the European Heart Journal
A study on healthy rats showed that an equivalent amount of
exercise resulted in producing more than 60 percent of heart stem
cells, usually dormant in adults, becoming active, the Telegraph
After two weeks of exercise the mice had a seven percent increase
in the number of cardiomyocites, the "beating" cells in heart
The John Moores team said they would now study the effects on mice
which had suffered heart attacks to determine whether it could
have an even greater benefit.
Georgina Ellison, from the John Moores University, who led the
study, said: "The exercise is increasing the growth factors which
are activating the stem cells to go on and repair the heart, and
this is the first time that this potential has been shown.
"We hope it might be even more effective in damaged hearts because
you have got more reason to replace the large amount of cells that
are lost," Ellison added.
Although some patients with severe heart damage may not be capable
of intensive exercise, Ellison said a significant number would
easily be able to jog or cycle for 30 minutes a day without
risking their health.
Jeremy Pearson, professor and associate medical director of the
British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, said:
"However, much more research is now needed to find out whether
what's been seen in this study can be translated into treatments
for human patients."