A German study published in Circulation, the flagship journal of the American Heart Association, compared the effectiveness of exercise to that of high-tech medical care in patients with coronary artery disease.
More than one hundred men, aged 70 and younger, were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received angioplasty with stenting (stents are tubes that prop open clogged arteries to increase blood flow). Men in the other group were put on an exercise program that included 20 minutes of bicycling each day for 12 months.
Researchers found that, compared to angioplasty and stenting, regular physical exercise was more effective and less expensive. The exercisers had fewer relapses and better blood flow than the men who underwent the high-tech procedures. Their treatment was also considerably cheaper, likely due to fewer expensive procedures and hospital stays.
Hambrecht R et al. Percutaneous coronary angioplasty compared with exercise training in patients with stable coronary artery disease: a randomized trial. Circulation. 2004 Mar 23; 109(11):1371-8.