Articles15 June 2004
A Six-Year Randomized, Controlled Trial
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    Although regular physical activity is recommended for prevention of cardiovascular diseases, no data are available on its antiatherosclerotic effects in the general population.


    To determine whether progressive aerobic exercise compared with usual activity slows progression of atherosclerosis in men.


    A 6-year randomized, controlled trial.


    Eastern Finland.


    140 middle-aged men randomly selected from the population registry.


    Low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.


    Atherosclerosis was quantitated ultrasonographically as the mean intima–media thickness in the carotid artery at baseline and at years 2 through 6.


    On the basis of intention-to-treat analyses, a 19.5% net increase (P < 0.001) in ventilatory aerobic threshold was evident in the exercise group after 6 years. High-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels were statistically nonsignificantly lower in the exercise group than in the control group (P > 0.2). The progression of intima–media thickness in the carotid artery did not differ between the study groups (P > 0.2). A subgroup analysis that excluded men taking statins showed that the 6-year progression of intima–media thickness, adjusted for smoking and annual measures of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, systolic blood pressure, and waist circumference, was 40% less in the exercise group (0.12 mm [95% CI, −0.010 to 0.26 mm]) than in the control group (0.20 mm [CI, 0.05 to 0.35 mm]).


    Only middle-aged white men were included. The intervention included mainly aerobic exercises.


    Aerobic physical exercise did not attenuate progression of atherosclerosis, except in a subgroup of men not taking statins.


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