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Regular Aerobic Exercise Offers Protection Against Stroke

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  • Collateral vessels that lead to collateral circulation shrink and decrease in diameter as the brain ages.
  • The extent of damage to the brain and recovery from stroke depends on collateral circulation.
  • Practice of regular aerobic exercise prevents loss of collateral vessels and protects collateral circulation.

Regular Aerobic Exercise Offers Protection Against Stroke

Exercise boosts collateral circulation and prevents the risk of stroke.

A new study in mice has shown that loss of collateral vessels is prevented by exercise.

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Collateral vessels are a network of blood vessels that lead to collateral circulation.

Collateral circulation is the process by which a system of closed, small arteries opens up and allows blood to flow to the part of the heart when a coronary artery is blocked, or to part of the brain when a cerebral artery is blocked.

These vessels shrinks in number and decrease in diameter as the brain ages.

The extent of damage caused by stroke to a brain and the effectiveness of recovery treatments depend significantly on the extent of collateral circulation.

Stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. The part of the brain that is affected is deprived of oxygen and eventually the brain cells die.

In U.S, stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and the 5th leading cause of death affecting nearly 800,000 annually. It kills 130,000 people a year which means one in every 20 deaths is due to stroke.

Women are more affected by stroke than men.


In the experiment, mice that started exercising regularly at twelve months-age, which is equivalent to 40 years age in humans, had the same abundance of collateral vessels when they reached 25 months-age, which is equivalent to 70 humans years as seen at 3 months-age, equivalent to 16 human years.

This was not the case among their non-exercising 25-month-old counterparts who had fewer collaterals of smaller diameter.

When the exercising 25-month-old mice suffered strokes, the damage caused to the brain was much less. The levels of molecules that help blood vessels work properly and stay healthy were also higher in exercising mice.

Researchers conclude that regular aerobic exercise beginning in middle-age may protect the collateral circulation and lessen the severity of strokes later in life.

The study is presented at the American Heart Association's International Stroke Conference 2017.


  1. collateral circulation - (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Encyclopedia/Heart-Encyclopedia_UCM_445084_Encyclopedia.jsp?title=collateral%20circulation)
  2. Impact of Stroke (Stroke statistics) - (http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/Impact-of-Stroke-Stroke-statistics_UCM_310728_Article.jsp#.WLEthjuGPIU)

Source: Medindia

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