In a new study, researchers investigating the heart benefits of exercise suggest that exercise may still help the heart even after a heart attack occurs.

The study is published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Physiology–Heart and Circulatory Physiology, according to a news release from the American Physiological Society.

After a heart attack, restoring blood flow to the oxygen-starved region of the heart is not enough to make the heart function normally again. The affected area scars and thins, and the heart changes structurally. Because of the remodeling and loss of working heart muscle, heart attack survivors can develop other heart complications, the release explains.

A team of researchers from Germany and Luxembourg investigated whether aerobic exercise could reduce the scarring, thinning, and structural changes, improving recovery success in physically active individuals.

Per the release, the researchers had mice run on a wheel regularly for 6 weeks prior to heart attack induction. Five days after the heart attack, the mice resumed their normal activity and continued exercising for 4 more weeks.

Compared to sedentary mice, the hearts of the exercising mice had less heart attack-induced scarring, thinning, and inflammation, the release notes.

According to the researchers, exercising regularly before and soon after heart attack ameliorated the structural changes associated with poor outcomes. “Our results suggest that the re-initiation of exercise can be recommended to patients relatively early” after heart attack, the researchers write, per the release.

[Source(s): American Physiological Society, Newswise]