When compared to the general population, individuals affected by autoimmune rheumatic diseases have an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis, that is, of accumulating plaques formed by fat and other substances inside blood vessels that obstruct circulation. Consequently, these patients are more likely to have a heart attack and other cardiovascular disorders.

The good news is that, according to a new study published in the journal Rheumatology, the regular practice of physical activity is a powerful weapon for combating vascular dysfunction in these patients.

In the article, Brazilian and British researchers described the results of a systematic review of the scientific literature on the subject. The work, which had the support of the Research Support Foundation of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP), involved ten studies and 355 volunteers with different diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus systemic disease and spondyloarthritis, a disease that affects the spine. Those individuals underwent various physical training programs, such as walking in the park or on the treadmill, stationary cycling (bike ergometric), high intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight training. Most interventions lasted 12 weeks.

"By analyzing the results, we concluded that the practice of physical activity promoted in the volunteers improvement of the endothelial function in small and large vases. And this improvement was relevant from a clinical point of view, which allows us to suggest that physical activity can be considered a 'medicine' for these patients, as it has the potential to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events ,” says Tiago Peçanha, a postdoctoral fellow at the Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo (FMUSP) and first author of the article.

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