Monday, 15 April 2013

Andrew Marr and exercise causing strokes?

Just a few thoughts on this.
We need to be cautious as there is so much bad science about this very complex subject, which wouldn't be allowed if the story was about economics for example.
The key to story is that later on he admits to have had two minor strokes, no rest and stressful period, so does exercise causes strokes is too simplistic cause and effect, he could have collapsed running for the bus...
The best thing is to seek advice from your GP about stroke and cardiovascular risk, and before undertaking a new exercise regime as activity can change your body's chemical and physiological functions. Our bodies are built for exercise, or physical activity, and studies do show that exercise is important to overall health. It helps control oxygen and red blood cells which we need for energy, it uses calories to keep us looking trim and it has psychological factors to improve mood. It is important to consider exercise as a complementary strand of health, along with nutrition, sleep, mental wellness, and drinking plenty of water. So, just jumping on a rowing machine for 3 mins of excessive exercise alone is not likely to be beneficial for all, even elite athletes have different exercise routines.
A stroke is when the brain is starved of oxygen, which is needed to provide energy, usually by a blockage in the artery caused by a dislodged blood clot. This is the same mechanism as a heart attack, but in this case the heart is starved of oxygen, in some countries a stroke is called a 'brain attack' for this reason. Blood clots can be caused by lots of things for example after surgery, following previous strokes or trauma, and through poor lifestyle, smoking and stress. It is bery unlikely that exercise would cause the underlying blood clot, but could it cause the clot to dislodge, damage an artery and cause a stroke? There is a chance this could be the case but we need to to do much more research to fully understand this, which is why if you have any concerns you should see your GP.
Dr Graham Basten is head of Biomedical Science at De Montfort University, comment on this via twitter @grahambasten #exercise?

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