Exercise boost for heart patients

15 February 2009
Posted by Chris Smith.

A sip of water containing a compound that boosts the ability of blood to transport oxygen around the body could help people with heart failure to exercise again.

Human HeartThat's according a study published this week in the journal PNAS by a team of scientists lead by Jean-Marie Lehn from the University of Louis Pasteur in France.

They found that a compound called myo-ino sit-ol tris pyro phosphate (or ITPP for short) can help boost the amount of vigorous exercise that can be done by both healthy mice and mice with heart failure.

The team gave doses of ITPP to mice, both as an injection and in drinking water. Some of the mice were normal and some were genetically modified to have heart failure. They then tested the mice's exercise capacity, by putting them on tiny mouse treadmill and seeing how long they can keep running for.

Both types of mice could carry on running for much longer when they had a dose of ITPP - up to 57% longer in healthy mice and with around a 30% improvement in the mice with heart failure. The response was dose dependent, so the more ITPP they had, the longer they could run for. What seems to be going on is that ITPP binds to haemoglobin, the oxygen carrying pigment in blood, making it able to absorb more oxygen and also more likely to let go of the oxygen and deliver it to muscles during exercise.

People with heart failure don't have a strong enough heart to pump enough blood around the body and delivery sufficient oxygen to carry out exercise, so ITPP should offer a ray of hope that one day it could be used to help heart patients be more active.

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