Vascular structure and function improve with diet and exercise

high-normal blood pressure (systolic greater than 130 mmHg to 139 mmHg, diastolic greater than 85 mmHg to 89 mmHg) or pre-diabetes indicated by impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance. The average age of patients was 53.3 years.

Researchers found that the 22 female and 16 male participants lost weight and improved their exercise capacity on the program. Treadmill tests were used to measure exercise capacity (VO2 max, the maximal volume of oxygen exchanged during exercise) at the beginning and end of the eight-week period. Average VO2 max increased from 32.1 milliliters per minute per kilogram (mL/min/kg) to 35.3 mL/min/kg. Average body weight decreased from 92.5 kg to 90.9 kg (203.5 pounds to 200 pounds).

"We were surprised that we saw such a weight reduction with the Mediterranean diet," Petrella said. "It was not a weight reduction program."

Blood pressure did not change significantly.

Ultrasound measurements of the heart and blood vessels at rest were performed as well.

Left ventricular diastolic filling (LVDF) measurements indicate the efficiency of the heart to relax. Left ventricular mass is a measure of end organ damage often following the onset of LVDF abnormalities.

The brachial (arm) and carotid (neck) arteries were tested for intima-media thickness and arterial distensibility. Both reflect the health of the blood vessels. The thicker and less distensible (elastic) the arteries are, the greater the load on the heart. This often results from changes in blood pressure, blood glucose or cholesterol disorders such as dyslipidemia.

Carotid artery distensibility was the only structural factor that significantly improved. It rose about 16 percent. Petrella said that the other factors may improve as patients are followed for one year.

One in three American adults has high blood pressure and two-thirds to three-fourths of people with diabetes mellitus die of some form of heart or blood vessel

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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