Monday, October 7, 2013

Exercise ‘can be as good as pills’

A study has found that exercise can be as good a medicine as pills for people with conditions such as heart disease.

British Medical Journal or BMJ’s work looked at hundreds of trials linking almost 340,000 patients to assess the merits of exercise and drugs in avoiding death. Physical activity challenged some heart drugs and proved that it is better than stroke medicine. According to the researchers, the findings suggest exercise should be added to prescriptions.

Experts emphasized that patients should not ditch their drugs for exercise – but, they should use both in tandem. Lesser and lesser adults at present get enough exercise.  No more than a third of people in England do the suggested at least 2.5 hours or more of moderate-intensity activity, like cycling or fast walking, every week.

In contrary, while that is happening, prescription drug rates continue to rise. In 2010, there were averages of 17.7 prescriptions for every person in England while 11.2 in 2000.

For the study, scientists based at the London School of Economics, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University School of Medicine trawled medical literature to find any research that compared exercise with pills as a therapy. They recognized 305 trials to incorporate in their analysis.  Such trials looked at managing conditions like existing heart disease, stroke rehabilitation, heart failure and pre-diabetes. They found exercise and drugs were comparable in terms of death rates when they studied the data as a total.

Although there were two exceptions, drugs called diuretics were the clear winner for heart failure patients, while exercise was best for stroke patients in terms of life expectancy. Amy Thompson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said that although an active lifestyle brings many health benefits, there is not enough evidence to draw any firm conclusions about the merit of exercise above and beyond drugs.

“Medicines are an extremely important part of the treatment of many heart conditions and people on prescribed drugs should keep taking their vital meds. If you have a heart condition or have been told you’re at high risk of heart disease, talk to your doctor about the role that exercise can play in your treatment.”

Dr Peter Coleman of the Stroke Association said exercise alongside drugs had a vital role that merited more research. “We would like to see more research into the long-term benefits of exercise for stroke patients. “By taking important steps, such as regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and stopping smoking, people can significantly reduce their risk of stroke.” “Moderate physical activity, for example, can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 27%.