Impact of supervised exercise program on arterial stiffness

Background. Although arterial stiffness is an independent predictor of cardiovascular mortality, the impact of exercise on this variable has not been established. The aim of the study was to evaluate the impact of a short program of exercise in patients with risk factors or cardiovascular disease on arterial stiffness.
Material and method.Arterial stiffness was assessed in consecutive patients admitted to a supervised exercise program. They were compared with patients with an age, gender, hypertension and previous cardiovascular disease matched control group. Pulse wave velocity (PWV) and other arterial stiffness parameters (oscillometric method) were measured at baseline and at 12 weeks in both groups. To assess the effect of exercise on arterial stiffness, the changes between these two time points (delta) was compared between groups.
Results. We include 47 patients in the exercise group and 42 in the control group (mean age 62 years, 75% male). There were no significant differences in baseline arteriographic variables between groups. At 12 weeks, the delta PWV value was lower in the exercise group compared with controls (-0.62 vs 1.07 m/s, p=0.004). In the multivariate analysis, the delta PWV value was 1.5 m/s lower in the exercise group  (CI 95% -2.80/-0.21, p=0.02). Except for systolic and diastolic blood pressure that were lower in the exercise group, delta values of others variables assessed did not differ between both groups.
Conclusion.In summary, a short program of supervised exercise may be effective in reducing arterial stiffness in patients with risk factors for and/or cardiovascular disease. Further larger studies to verify the real impact of this intervention on arterial stiffness are required.

Keywords:Exercise ; Cardiac rehabilitation ; Pulse wave velocity ; Arterial stiffness ; Cardiovascular risk