Wednesday, July 7, 2021

A Wonder Drug

Consider this a public service announcement. I have made similar announcements in the past, but I believe it valuable to offer an occasional reminder.

At a time when the country is absorbing itself in debates about vaccines and medication, we ought to take a deep breath and remember that if anything is truly a wonder drug, it is-- exercise. Obviously, exercise cannot replace vaccines and medication, but recent studies have shown that patients who are undergoing, say, chemotherapy, find that exercise improves the effectiveness of treatment.

Anyway, here’s one for exercise, from The Daily Mail:

Capable of boosting heart, lung and bone health, warding off depression and keeping cancer at bay, it’s no exaggeration to call exercise a wonder drug.

And now researchers are discovering another upside: it can improve the effectiveness of drugs, such as those used in chemotherapy. 

It can also counteract the side-effects of some treatments, with one recent study showing that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling three times a week can dramatically improve the heart health of dialysis patients.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in patients with end-stage kidney disease. This is as a result of dialysis; while it helps to remove excess fluid and toxins (which build up as the kidneys fail), over time it can weaken the heart as the fluctuating fluid levels put it under stress.

In a trial run by Leicester University involving 130 dialysis patients, half cycled on an exercise bike at moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes three times a week while undergoing treatment. The other half received standard care, with no exercise. After six months, scans revealed there was nearly 10 per cent less inflammation in the hearts of the cycling group, the journal Kidney International reported earlier this year.

‘Doctors often treat things with a pill, but in order to improve treatment long term, we also want to focus on more innovative ways of tackling the unique risk factors kidney patients face, particularly heart disease,’ says James Burton, a professor of renal medicine at Leicester University, who led the study.

‘Once scarring occurs, it’s irreversible,’ he adds. ‘But what the study showed is exercise could prevent inflamed heart tissue from progressing to scar tissue which would then be associated with bad outcomes including heart failure.’

If that does not suffice, consider this. If you start exercising when you are young you will not end up, when you are old, sounding like Joe Biden.

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