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Circulation. 1997 Oct 21;96(8):2534-41.

Attenuated progression of coronary artery disease after 6 years of multifactorial risk intervention: role of physical exercise.

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  • 1Medizinische Universitätsklinik Heidelberg, Abteilung Innere Medizin III-Kardiologie, Germany.



It was the aim of this study to assess the long-term effects of physical exercise and low-fat diet on the progression of coronary artery disease. At the beginning of the study, 113 male patients with coronary artery disease were randomized to an intervention group (n=56) or a control group (n=57); 90 patients (80%) could be reevaluated after 6 years.


Patients in the intervention group (n=40) showed a reduction in total serum cholesterol (6.03+/-1.03 versus 5.67+/-1.01 mmol/L; P<.03) and triglyceride levels (1.94+/-0.8 versus 1.6+/-0.89 mmol/L; P<.005) and maintained their initial body mass index (26+/-2 versus 27+/-2 kg/m2; P=NS), but results were not statistically different from the control group (n=50) (total serum cholesterol, 6.05+/-1.02 versus 5.79+/-0.88 mmol/L; triglycerides, 2.25+/-1.28 versus 1.85+/-0.96 mmol/L [both P=NS]; body mass index, 26+/-2 versus 28+/-3 kg/m2 [P<.0001]). In the intervention group, there was a significant 28% increase in physical work capacity (166+/-59 versus 212+/-89 W; P<.001), whereas values remained essentially unchanged in the control group (165+/-51 versus 170+/-60 W; P=NS; between groups, P<.05). In the intervention group, coronary stenoses progressed at a significantly slower rate than in the control group (P<.0001). Energy expenditure during exercise was assessed in a subgroup; patients with regression of coronary stenoses spent an average of 1784+/-384 kcal/wk (approximately 4 hours of moderate aerobic exercise per week). Multivariate regression analysis identified only physical work capacity as independently contributing to angiographic changes.


After 6 years of multifactorial risk intervention, there is significant and persistent improvement in lipoprotein levels and physical work capacity, which results in a significant retardation of disease progression. These beneficial effects appear to be largely due to chronic physical exercise.

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