Juliet Walker: BMJ in the news

Juliet WalkerThere is some good news this week for men in their fifties who have not exercised much in the past. A BMJ study published last week shows that taking up exercise between 50 to 60 years old is just as effective as exercising frequently by middle age. This means that it is never to late to take up an exercise regime.

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Juliet Walker is the Editorial Intern, BMJ

  • I fear that the majority of humans between 50 to 60 years old, and probably also some physicians, do not know one important action mechanism of physical excercise among a lot of others. Here it’s. Physical excercise brings about physiological stretching stress upon endothelial cells, causing their elongation, paralleling blood flow. As a consequence, basal endothelial adhesion points are spread on a larger surface, so that their stimulation may act more intensively on nuclear receptors, incresing useful substance synthesis, thus ameliorating precious endothels functions, as particularly NO-radical secretion through NO-radical- endothel-synthase, and other substrates, acting against blood clotting.

  • Les Simpson

    An interesting but worrying aspect of the reports of the beneficial consequences of exercising in the middle aged is the failure to address the question of WHY is exercise of health value.
    Because the effects of exercise have been compared with the benefits of quitting smoking, the common feature is that in both situations blood viscosity is reduced.
    Unfortunately, blood viscosity is not a common topic – even though it is not new. In 1911, Allbutt published a paper titled, “The viscosity of the blood. A review.” In the 1970s Dintenfass published two books on the topic. More recently Ernst and his associates reported that low intensity exercise lowered blood viscosity.
    The relevance of exercise in the aging has been explained by Ajmani and Rifkind, who in 1998 reported that the aging process was accompanied by an increase in blood viscosity and in fibrinogen levels, with a reduction in red cell deformability.
    Yet despite the easy access to the relevant literature by using search engines such as PubMed, it is extremely unusual to find reference to blood viscosity in reports on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disorders and diabetes mellitus. One is left with the impression that the current approaches to illness do not include a role for changes in the blood. But blood is a thixotropic system, which means that in fast flowing arteries it behaves almost like a Newtonian fluid, but in the outer branches of the circulation, the reduced rate of flow is associated with an increase in blood viscosity.
    The failure to recognise a role for blood viscosity means that agents which reduce blood viscosity are unutilised. For example in 1985 Kromhout et al reported that a daily intake of 35 grams of oily fish resulted in a 50% reduction in the incidence of heart disease in a 20-year-long study. In the following year Kamada et al reported that sardine oil increased the fluidity of the red cell membrane.
    Might I suggest that those interested in circulatory problems and heart disease or diabetes mellitus, explore the information available about blood viscosity though the search engine PubMed. What is certain is that until the role of blood viscosity is recognised, many conditions will be treated inappropriately and managed poorly.