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Efficacy of exercise training for improving vascular dysfunction in people with cancer

a systematic review with meta-analyses

J Cancer Surviv. 2023 Apr 20.

Abstract Purpose: Cancer treatments exert vascular toxic effects that can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease. Exercise training has the potential to prevent or reduce cancer treatment-induced damage to vascular structure and function. This systematic review with meta-analyses aimed to determine the isolated effects of exercise training on vascular outcomes in people with cancer.

Methods: Seven electronic databases were searched on 20 September 2021 to identify randomised controlled trials, quasi-randomised trials, pilot and cohort studies. Included studies implemented a structured exercise intervention and assessed vascular structure and/or function in people during or following cancer treatment. Meta-analyses examined the effects of exercise training on endothelial function (via brachial artery flow-mediated dilation) and arterial stiffness (via pulse wave velocity). Methodological quality was assessed using the Cochrane Quality Assessment tool and modified Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Appraisal tool. Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluations framework was used to assess the certainty of evidence.

Results: Ten studies (discussed across 11 articles) met the inclusion criteria. Methodological quality of the included studies was moderate (71% average). Exercise improved vascular function when compared to control (standardised mean difference = 0.34, 95% CI (0.01, 0.67); p = 0.044: studies = 5, participants = 171), but not pulse wave velocity (standardised mean difference = - 0.64, 95% CI (- 1.29, 0.02); p = 0.056: studies = 4, participants = 333). The certainty of evidence was moderate for flow-mediated dilation and low for pulse wave velocity.

Conclusions: Compared to usual care, exercise training significantly improves flow-mediated dilation (endothelial function) but not pulse wave analysis, in people treated for cancer.

Implications for cancer survivors: Exercise may improve vascular health in individuals during and following cancer treatment.

Keywords: Cardiotoxicity; Carotid intima-media thickness; Exercise physiology; Neoplasms; Physical activity; Pulse wave analysis.

© 2023. The Author(s).

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