Long-term effects of an exercise and Mediterranean diet intervention in the vascular function of an older, healthy population

Markos Klonizakis, Ahmad Alkhatib, Geoff Middleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Preserving endothelial function and microvascular integrity is suggested to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. It was recently shown that the age-dependent decline in endothelial and microvascular integrity may be reversed when combining exercise with Mediterranean diet (MD) in an 8-week intervention. The present study investigates whether the risk-reduction improvement in microcirculatory and cardiorespiratory functions are sustained in this age-group after a 1-year follow-up.
Design and methods: Twenty sedentary healthy participants (age, 55 ± 4 years) from the original study underwent cardiopulmonary exercise tolerance test and were assessed for their upper- and lower-limb vascular endothelial cutaneous vascular conductance (CVC) using laser Doppler fluximetry (LDF) with endotheliumdependent [ACh (acetylcholine chloride)] and endothelium-independent [SNP (sodium nitroprusside)] vasodilation, 1 year after completing the intervention.
Results: Both MD and exercise groups appeared to have an improved microvascular responses, in comparison to baseline as far as ACh is concerned. Exploring the interactions between the time point and the original group, however, revealed a stronger improvement in the MD group in comparison to the exercise group, for ACh (p = 0.04, d = 0.41). In the upper body, the time point and group interaction for ACh, indicated a better improvement for MD, without however statistical significance (p = 0.07, d = 0.24). Additionally, cardiorespiratory improvement in ventilatory threshold was maintained, 1 year after (12.2 ± 3.0 vs. 13.2 ± 3.2 ml ∙ kg−1 ∙ min−1,p b 0.05).
Conclusions: The original improvements from an 8-week exercise and MD intervention were still evident, particularly in the microcirculatory and cardiorespiratory assessments, 1 year after the initial study. This suggests that a brief intervention combining MD with exercise in this high-risk group promises long-term health benefits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-107
Number of pages5
JournalMicrovascular Research
Early online date7 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Microcirculation
  • Fitness assessment
  • Nutrition
  • Endothelium
  • Ageing
  • Mediterranean diet


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