Evidence summary (Added 2022)
A recent systematic review (1) explored how exercise affected vasculature since patients with autoimmune rheumatic disease have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease secondary to accelerated atherosclerosis process.
The review involved 355 adults with a diagnosis of LcSSc, axial SpA, SLE, RA or SAM, who underwent some form of physical activity intervention that lasted at least 2 weeks. Physical activity promoted significant improvements in microvascular [skin blood flow responses to ACh] and macrovascular function [Flow Mediated Dilatation %]. Conversely, there was no evidence for beneficial effects of physical activity on macrovascular structure [Pulse Wave Velocity]. This was suggestive of broadly positive impacts of physical activity on vasculature but further investigation into mechanism and consequences of these findings is essential.
Quality of evidence:
Grade B – Moderate Quality – A single systematic review involving a medium sized sample
Strength of recommendation
Grade 2 – Weak Recommendation
Exercise may give a broadly beneficial effect on vasculature but needs to be replicated in further trials; further investigation into whether this translates into reduced cardiovascular risk is required.
- Peçanha T, Bannell DJ, Sieczkowska SM, Goodson N, Roschel H, Sprung VS, Low DA. Effects of physical activity on vascular function in autoimmune rheumatic diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2021 Jul 1;60(7):3107-3120. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keab094. PMID: 33521818.