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A study in the medical journal Epidemiology reports that exercise lowers a blood test called C-Reactive Protein. Many researchers believe that C-Reactive Protein is a more dependable predictor of heart attacks than blood cholesterol level. Future studies are likely to show that exercise may be more important in preventing heart attacks than dieting to reduce cholesterol.

C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is a measure of inflammation, a swelling in the body that usually is caused by infection. A current theory is that you get an infection with a bacteria or virus, which raises blood levels of CRP and causes swelling and damage to the linings of your arteries. This causes cholesterol to deposit into the linings of arteries to form plaques that slow the flow of blood. Then the infection causes clots to form that completely block the arteries to cause a heart attack. How could exercise prevent heart attacks by lowering CRP? Nobody knows, but perhaps the vigorous flow of blood cleans arteries, sweeps bacteria from their inner linings and prevents inflammation. Vigorous exercise cannot hurt a healthy heart, but check with your doctor because hard exercise could cause a heart attack if your heart is already damaged.

Epidemiology, September 2002

Checked 9/3/05

May 19th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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