Two studies from Brazil* presented at EULAR 2012, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism June 6 – 9, 2012 showed that exercise can be beneficial in improving risk factors for heart disease, at least in some lupus patients.
Researchers know that heart (cardiovascular) disease is an important issue for people with lupus but the why remains unclear. The Lupus Research Institute-funded work by Mariana Kaplan, MD at University of Michigan Medical School indicated that one reason may be endothelial dysfunction (a condition in which the endothelium (inner lining) of blood vessels does not function normally) and fewer endothelial progenitor cells (cells that travel through the blood to repair damage done to the lining of blood vessels and the heart after tissue has died).
Exercise Improves Endothelial Function, a Risk Factor for Heart Disease
One of the Brazilian* studies presented at EULAR showed that a supervised six-month physical exercise program improved endothelial function and increased the number of endothelial progenitor cells. The higher number of these cells may be one of the reasons exercise improved endothelial function. Study researchers concluded that physical exercise can help reduce a known risk factor for cardiovascular problems in lupus patients.
Exercise Does Not Worsen Lupus, Shows Study
Results of a second Brazilian study** conducted with a very small number of patients presented at EULAR showed that for people with lupus, exercise does not increase certain cytokines, proteins that interact with cells of the immune system to regulate the body's response to disease and infection. Producing too many cytokines can cause inflammation or destroy healthy tissues. The cytokines tested were already higher than normal in lupus patients, but exercise did not increase the levels further.
Lupus expert Maureen McMahon, MD, at David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA commented, “Both of these studies are important because one shows potential benefit of exercise for people with lupus while the other shows that it doesn’t cause harm. This work builds on findings from our retrospective study funded by the LRI that showed lack of exercise is an important measure of risk factors for heart disease among people with lupus. Other studies also have shown that exercise can improve sleep quality and contribute to an overall sense of well-being.”
Certified in working with special populations such as people with lupus, celebrity fitness expert and author Larysa DiDio, notes, “Exercise can be great for lupus patients. The latest research shows that aerobic exercise and physical training are safe and can improve their quality of life as well as help prevent heart disease."
* EULAR 2012 [Abstract AB0074] THE EFFECT OF PHYSICAL EXERCISE IN THE CYTOKINES LEVELS IN PATIENTS WITH SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS
**EULAR 2012 [Abstract THU0173] SUPERVISED PHYSICAL EXERCISE IMPROVES ENDOTHELIAL FUNCTION AND INCREASE ENDOTHELIAL PROGENITOR CELLS NUMBER IN PATIENTS WITH SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS