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Heart Condition Affects Exercise

January 21, 2009

An abnormal heart condition could affect how much you can exercise. New research shows patients with abnormal diastolic function ““ when the heart relaxes and expands ““ in the left ventricle of the heart have a substantially lower maximum capacity for exercise.

There are factors known to decrease one’s capacity for exercise, including age, female sex, a body mass index greater than 30 and co-existing medical conditions. However, new research suggests assessing left ventricle function could be useful in identifying one’s potential for exercise.

Using exercise echocardiography — a non-invasive diagnostic tool that uses ultrasound to study the structure and movement of the heart — researchers found diastolic dysfunction (impaired relaxation) of the left ventricle was strongly associated with decreased exercise capacity. This decrease grew progressively with patients’ age.

“In identifying diastolic function parameters as strong correlates of exercise capacity, we have identified potentially modifiable and preventable factors in the development of exercise intolerance. It is well known that exercise training improves diastolic function in healthy individuals,” the authors write.

SOURCE: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2009;301:286-294

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