‘Exercise pill’ tricks your body into thinking you’ve worked out

An “exercise pill” that boosts blood flow by mimicking the effects of going to the gym could revolutionize the lives of heart failure patients.

The experimental drug strengthened the hearts of mice and rats with the condition and scientists are hopeful the same will happen for humans.

It’s based on a protein called cardiotrophin 1 (CT1) that tricks the heart into thinking it’s being exercised by growing healthily and pumping more blood.

This is just what happens during a work-out, jog or cycle ride.

And it’s very different from the harmful enlargement of the heart that occurs during heart failure.

Tests on the lab rodents and cells cultured in a dish showed CT1 also repairs heart damage and improves blood flow. British heart experts described the breakthrough as “encouraging.”

Senior author Lynn Megeney, a professor at Ottawa University, said: “When part of the heart dies the remaining muscles try to adapt by getting bigger.

“But this happens in a dysfunctional way and it doesn’t actually help the heart pump more blood.

“We found CT1 causes heart muscles to grow in a more healthy way and it also stimulates blood vessel growth in the heart.

“This actually increases the heart’s ability to pump blood — just like what you would see with exercise and pregnancy.”

Heart failure is believed to affect around 900,000 Britons, almost half of them undiagnosed, for whom any physical activity is exhausting.

The far right image shows how a cardiotrophin treatment repaired heart muscle after a heart attack in a rat model. The blue areas are scar tissue and the red sections are healthy heart muscle.Cell Research / SWNS.com

It’s caused by the organ being unable to pump blood properly around the body often after a heart attack.

A drug that can reduce the death rate from the condition, for which there is no cure, will have a significant impact on the life expectancy of millions around the world.

It would also reduce the need for heart…

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