Fighting Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Abdominal aortic aneurysms improve with mild exercise

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Most people with abdominal aortic aneurysms never experience any symptoms. If it ruptures, most die within minutes. Treatment of these aneurysms, if found, is very important.

A recent study suggests mild exercise may improve the health of patients with small abdominal aortic aneurysms. It could also prevent the aneurysm from getting bigger.

Keeping the aneurysms from getting bigger is the goal. If it gets too large, surgery will be needed.

"Talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program."

Garry Tew and colleagues led the study to see if patients with small abdominal aortic aneurysms could safely exercise. They recruited men and women ages 50 to 85 years old. Patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group was a 12 week program of a moderate exercise program. They were required to exercise three times a week for at least 35 minutes. The second group was only encouraged to exercise.

Researchers were interested in the safety of exercising. This was measured by changes in the size of the aortic aneurysm and if patient had any negative health events. They also looked at overall health and quality of life outcomes. Blood pressure and high sensitivity to C-reactive protein was also measured.

Having high levels of protein in blood may indicate cardiovascular problems. 

Of the 545 patients contacted for the study, 28 agreed to enroll. There were 3 dropouts. The patients in the exercise program had a 94 percent participation rate. This group did not experience any negative results from exercising.

The exercise group showed a 20 percent decrease in blood pressure and high sensitivity to C-reactive protein. They also improved their cardiopulmonary fitness level. This means they increased their overall physical endurance.

Most importantly, there were no increases in the size of the aortic aneurysm. Quality of life was measured using a health survey. The exercise group did not report an improvement in life quality.

The authors noted that the study was very small. Results suggest that a mild exercise program can improve the health of these patients. Future research is needed.

"Despite a low recruitment rate, the findings suggest that moderate-intensity endurance exercise training is feasible in patients with small abdominal aortic aneurysms, and can evoke improvements in important health outcomes."

This study was published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. It was funded by the Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Vascular Institute. The authors disclosed no conflict of interest.

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Review Date: 
December 17, 2012
Last Updated:
December 24, 2012