Another reason why frequent exercise is so important for heart health

New research has highlighted the protective effect of exercise on the heart via a chemical called Nitric Oxide and the enzyme that produces it eNOS.

It is known that exercise reduces the risk of heart attack and protects the heart to an extent from heart injury if a heart attack does occur. It has been a major aim for doctors to understand how this second method of protection works, and how it may help protect the heart after heart attacks occur.

Researchers at Emory University may have gone some way to identifying an important part to the puzzle. The group have identified that the heart has the ability to produce and to an extent store Nitric Oxide during exercise.

Nitric oxide has the ability to relax blood vessels, increase blood flow and critically help the heart tissue better survive heart attacks. This would mean that during exercise your body will build up Nitric Oxide stores that can be later used when the body needs it.

However, the study found that the effects of exercise are not long lived. Mice were allowed to voluntarily exercise on exercise wheels for four weeks. The mice were then given heart attacks. Those mice that had been voluntarily exercising for the four weeks leading up to the heart attack had less severe heart attacks.

Unfortunately this cardio protective effect was shown to be short-lived.  If the wheel was taken away from the mice that had been exercising for four weeks the beneficial effect seemed to be lost after a week of non-exercise. This evidence highlights the need for regular moderate exercise as a good way of reducing the risk of heart attack and it’s severity if it does occur.

Full article at Circulation Research.