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Effects of physical activity on vascular function in autoimmune rheumatic diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Peçanha, T, Bannell, DJ, Sieczkowska, SM, Goodson, N, Roschel, H, Sprung, VS and Low, DA (2021) Effects of physical activity on vascular function in autoimmune rheumatic diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Rheumatology, 60 (7). pp. 3107-3120. ISSN 1462-0324

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Abstract

Objectives: To summarize existing evidence and quantify the effects of physical activity on vascular function and structure in autoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARDs). Methods: Databases were searched (through March 2020) for clinical trials evaluating the effects of physical activity interventions on markers of micro- and macrovascular function and macrovascular structure in ARDs. Studies were combined using random effects meta-analysis, which was conducted using Hedges' g. Meta-analyses were performed on each of the following outcomes: microvascular function [i.e. skin blood flow or vascular conductance responses to acetylcholine (ACh) or sodium nitropusside (SNP) administration]; macrovascular function [i.e. brachial flow-mediated dilation (FMD%) or brachial responses to glyceryl trinitrate (GTN%); and macrovascular structure [i.e. aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV)]. Results: Ten studies (11 trials) with a total of 355 participants were included in this review. Physical activity promoted significant improvements in microvascular [skin blood flow responses to ACh, g = 0.92 (95% CI 0.42, 1.42)] and macrovascular function [FMD%, g = 0.94 (95% CI 0.56, 1.02); GTN%, g = 0.53 (95% CI 0.09, 0.98)]. Conversely, there was no evidence for beneficial effects of physical activity on macrovascular structure [PWV, g = -0.41 (95% CI -1.13, 0.32)]. Conclusions: Overall, the available clinical trials demonstrated a beneficial effect of physical activity on markers of micro- and macrovascular function but not on macrovascular structure in patients with ARDs. The broad beneficial impact of physical activity across the vasculature identified in this review support its role as an effective non-pharmacological management strategy for patients with ARDs.

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