A recent study published in Nature Communications identifies a link between exercise and the heart's ability to regenerate new muscle cells under normal conditions and after a heart attack.
A new study investigates the effects of exercise on the heart.
The research, which was conducted on groups of mice, could have dramatic implications for "public health, physical education, and the rehabilitation of cardiac patients."
The first study authors are Ana Vujic, Ph.D., who works in the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology in Cambridge, MA, and Dr. Carolin Lerchenmüller, of Harvard Medical School (HMS), also in Cambridge, and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
According to previous research, our hearts have very little capacity to regenerate themselves.
Vujic explains, "We wanted to know whether there was a natural way to enhance the regenerative capacity of heart muscle cells. So, we decided to test the one intervention we already know to be safe and inexpensive: exercise."
They found that heart muscle cells in a young adult heart only renew 1 percent every year and this would continue to decrease with age. Therefore, any interventions that increase new heart cell formation could have the potential to prevent heart failure in the future.
The effects of exercise on heart cells
In the new study, researchers used two groups of healthy mice to test the effects of exercise on the heart. One group of mice had voluntary access to a treadmill, and the other group did not and remained sedentary.
The mice with the treadmill ran around 5 kilometers each day. The scientists were able to measure heart regeneration in the mice by tracking the newly made DNA as the cells divided. By doing this, they could see where new cells were being produced in the heart muscles.
They decided to take the test one step further by using mice that had experienced an actual heart attack. As Vujic says, "We also wanted to test this in the disease setting of a heart attack, because our main interest is healing."The team reported that the mice that used the treadmill produced more than four and half times the amount of new heart muscle cells than those without access to a treadmill.
Following a heart attack, the mice with access to a treadmill continued to run 5 kilometers per day voluntarily, and they showed an increase in heart tissue where new muscle cells were formed.
Co-senior study authors Dr. Richard Lee, a Harvard professor of stem cell and regenerative biology, and Dr. Anthony Rosenzweig, a Paul Dudley White Professor of Medicine at the HMS, believe that they have made significant progress with their research.
Dr. Rosenzweig says, "Maintaining a healthy heart requires balancing the loss of heart muscle cells due to injury or aging with the regeneration or birth of new heart muscle cells. Our study suggests exercise can help tip the balance in favor of regeneration."
Dr. Lee adds, "Our study shows that you might be able to make your heart younger by exercising more every day."
The next step for these researchers is to locate the biological mechanisms that tie exercise to the regeneration of heart muscle cells. Thus far, they have found a particular biological pathway needed for exercise to switch on heart muscle cell regeneration.
"Now," explains Dr. Rosenzweig, "we need to find the signals that are sufficient to turn this pathway on."
Dr. Lee concludes, "If we can turn on these pathways at just the right time, in the right people, then we can improve recovery after a heart attack."
A heart attack is the death of a segment of heart muscle caused by a loss of blood supply. The blood is usually cut off when an artery supplying the heart muscle is blocked by a blood clot.
If some of the heart muscle dies, a person experiences chest pain and electrical instability of the heart muscle tissue.
This MNT Knowledge Center will cover information about how and why heart attacks occur, how they are treated, and how to prevent them. Fast facts on heart attacks: During a heart attack, the heart muscle loses blood supply and is damaged.Chest discomfort and pain are common symptoms.The risk of a heart attack increases when a man is over 45 and a woman is over 55.Smoking and obesity are big factors, particularly in the at-risk age range.
Symptoms Heart attacks are a serious form of heart disease, with many different causes.
There are clear symptoms of a heart attack that require immediate medical attention.
A feeling of pressure, tightness, pain, squeezing, or aching in the chest or…
Acute heart failure is an illness that hits suddenly and without any earlier symptoms.
Indeed, the medical definition of acute, according to MediLexicon, is "a health effect, usually of rapid onset, brief, not prolonged; sometimes loosely used to mean severe." This article looks at the causes, symptoms, and other facts about acute heart failureto help people understand this condition better.
Types of heart failure Acute heart failure is heart failure that occurs suddenly and sometimes without warning.
Heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to serve the body's needs. It can be acute or chronic. Chronic heart failure develops slowly, while acute occurs suddenly.
The heart is a complex organ. Any failure can take place on either the left or right side or both.
The heart has four chambers, which work in a rhythm to pump blood around the body. If these chambers stiffen, they may not fill sufficiently. If the heart, which is a muscle, is too weak, its c…
Coronary heart disease refers to a narrowing of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply oxygen and blood to the heart. It is also known as coronary artery disease. It is a major cause of illness and death.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) normally happens when cholesterol accumulates on the artery walls, creating plaques. The arteries narrow, reducing blood flow to the heart. Sometimes, a clot can obstruct the flow of blood to the heart muscle.
CHD commonly causes angina pectoris (chest pain), shortness of breath, myocardial infarction, or heart attack. It is the most common type of heart disease in the United States, where it accounts for 370,000 deaths every year. Fast facts on coronary heart disease: Coronary heartdisease accounted for 23.5 percent of all deaths in the U.S. in 2008.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack each year.Warning signs and symptoms include chest pa…