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The effect of exercise on atherosclerosis in the coronary artery and abdominal aorta of mature female swine


This study investigated the effects of chronic exercise on atherosclerosis in the aorta and coronary artery in mature female swine. Preceding and during the exercise training period these animals were fed high fat, (soybean or corn oil) cholesterol-free diets. Sixteen swine were paired according to breed, body weight, and diet. Eight swine were a non-exercise control group while the remaining eight were an experimental group and exercised 4 days per week for 4 months. The exercise training program initially consisted of running at 5.6 km·h−1, zero gradient, for 15 min with increments of 1 min of running time every 2 weeks.

The amount of atherosclerosis in the coronary artery and abdominal aorta was determined directly. Plasma lipids, body weight, body potassium, and percent fat were recorded at three intervals during the training program. Four months of exercise had no significant effect on plasma cholesterol, phospholipids, total lipids or triglycerides, although there was a significant effect of test periods on cholesterol. Diet was found to have no influence on plasma lipids. The exercise group did not have larger heart weights, ratio of heart weight to body weight or ratio of heart weight to fat-free body weight. The percent lipid in the lesion area and the lesion surface area of the abdominal aorta was not significantly different between the two groups. The amount of lipid obtained from the intima-media of the coronary artery and the lesion area involvement was not significantly different between the exercise group and the non-exercise group. It is concluded that 4 months of exercise had no effect on plasma lipids, body potassium, body weight, or coronary and aortic atherosclerosis.

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Gass, G.C., Romack, F.E. & Lohman, T.G. The effect of exercise on atherosclerosis in the coronary artery and abdominal aorta of mature female swine. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 42, 235–246 (1979).

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Key words

  • Exercise
  • Plasma lipids
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Swine