Skip to content
Menu

Exercise May Trigger Stroke In Those With Blocked Arteries

Increased heart rate can induce a stroke in patients with highly blocked carotid arteries, warns new study

Exercise may trigger a stroke in people with blocked arteries, a new study warns.

Many gym goers overlook the warnings preceding workout classes that encourage consulting a doctor before participating in rigorous exercise, say scientists.

They warned that certain conditions could make the increased heart rate associated with exercise dangerous.

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur found that an increased heart rate can induce a stroke in patients with highly blocked carotid arteries.

But for healthy patients and those with only slightly blocked arteries, exercise is beneficial for maintaining healthy blood flow.

The research team explained that carotid arteries supply blood flow to facial tissues and the brain and are located on both sides of the neck.

When fat, cholesterol and other particles build up the inner carotid walls, they form a plaque that narrows the artery.

The narrowing is called stenosis, and while it can be very hard to detect early stages of plaque accumulation, stenosis is dangerous because it limits blood flow to the brain.

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur found that an increased heart rate can induce a stroke in patients with highly blocked carotid arteries. PHOTO BY ANDREA PIACQUADIO/PEXELS

Without the necessary blood, the brain lacks oxygen, and the patient suffers a stroke.

In healthy patients, an elevated heart rate increases and stabilizes the drag force blood exerts on the vessel wall, reducing stenosis risk.

But for patients already experiencing stenosis, it may not be as beneficial.

The research team used a specialized computational model to simulate blood flow in carotid arteries at three stages of stenosis: without blockage, with a mild 30 percent blockage, and with a moderate 50 percent blockage.

They compared the effect of an exercise-induced heart rate of 140 beats per minute and resting heart rates of 67 and 100 bpm.

As expected, for healthy and mild cases, the exercise condition improved the health of the simulated carotid.

But the team said the results for moderate blockage were “concerning.”

Study author Dr. Somnath Roy said: “Intense exercise shows adverse effects on patients with moderate or higher stenosis levels.

“It substantially increases the shear stress at the stenosis zone, which may cause the stenosis to rupture.”

He added: “This ruptured plaque may then flow to the brain and its blood supply, causing ischemic stroke.”

Dr. Roy said an elevated heart rate could also increase the likelihood of another stenosis forming.

The research team says many factors contribute to stenosis and stroke risk, including age, lifestyle, and genetics, but they recommend checking arterial health regularly for people doing intense workouts.

They also recommend a carefully prescribed exercise regime for people with moderate to severe stenosis or with a history of strokes.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

Edited by Saba Fatima and Newsdesk Manager

“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”

Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.

Check out our free email newsletters

Recommended from our partners