Patients suffering from chronic heart failure can see improvement in their good cholesterol with an exercise training program, researchers found.

“Good cholesterol” stimulates production of nitric oxide and leads to anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects important for our health. A study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research this week shows that high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol can be improved with exercise.

“In recent years it became evident that not only the quantity but also the functional capacity of HDL is important for [positively] influencing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” researchers said. “Strategies are being developed to increase HDL quantity and function. Exercise training is an accepted intervention strategy in patients with systolic heart failure.”

In the study, 16 chronic heart failure patients entered into a 12-week exercise training program.

The patients exercised on a bicycle ergometer three to six times a day for five to 20 minutes at a hospital during the first three weeks. The participants were then discharged and continued cycling 20 to 30 minutes a day for the duration of the study with a required 60 minute group training session once a week. These patients were compared to a group of healthy people who also underwent exercise training.

Exercise training had no effect on the HDL function in healthy individuals, but it increased HDL function for the heart failure patients.

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