Aims: Despite the importance of both lipid metabolism and physical activity to cardiovascular health, few studies have examined the effect of exercise training on vascular function in hypercholesterolaemic humans.
Methods and results: A randomized, cross-over design investigated the effect of 8 weeks of combined aerobic and resistance exercise training on conduit and resistance vessel function in 11 untreated subjects with hypercholesterolaemia and 11 subjects taking lipid-lowering medication. High-resolution vascular ultrasonography following forearm ischaemia and glyceryl trinitrate administration determined conduit vessel endothelium-dependent and independent function. Strain-gauge plethysmography, with intra-aerial infusions of acetylcholine, sodium nitroprusside and N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine, determined resistance vessel function. Flow-mediated dilation and the forearm blood flow response to acetylcholine improved significantly following training in the treated subgroup (both P<0.05) but not the untreated, although the blood flow response to N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine was augmented following training in the untreated subjects (P<0.05), indicating greater basal nitric oxide bioactivity. Training did not alter responsiveness to glyceryl trinitrate or sodium nitroprusside.
Conclusions: Combined aerobic and resistance training improves endothelium-dependent conduit and resistance vessel function in hypercholesterolaemic subjects taking lipid-lowering medications and basal nitric oxide bioactivity in untreated hypercholesterolaemic subjects. Exercise training may provide additional cardiovascular benefits for hypercholesterolaemic patients including those taking lipid-lowering medication.