Exercise May Be As Effective As Drugs for Certain Conditions

Exercise and drug interventions may be similar regarding their effect on mortality in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, stroke rehabilitation, and prevention of diabetes, according to research published online in BMJ.

Huseyin Naci, of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and John P.A. Ioannidis, MD, of Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., conducted a meta-epidemiological study using meta-analyses (four for exercise and 12 for drug therapy) of randomized, controlled trials to examine the comparative effectiveness of exercise versus drug therapy on mortality outcomes for four common medical conditions.

The researchers found no difference in outcomes for exercise versus drug interventions for the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and prediabetes. For stroke rehabilitation, exercise was more effective than drug treatments, including anticoagulants and antiplatelets. Exercise was less effective than diuretics for heart failure outcomes.

"This comprehensive look at the existing body of evidence highlights the need to perform randomized trials on the comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions," the authors wrote.

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