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Add HIIT Exercise Training to the List of Heart Disease Reversal Strategies

high intensity interval training (HIIT)
Strategies to REVERSE coronary artery disease plaques are sorely needed. Evidence for over 40 years has demonstrated that low-fat plant diets, mind-body practices, and exercise like walking, medication, and some supplements like aged garlic can all contribute to heart plaque reversal.  More reversal therapies are needed howevere.

Coronary atheroma volume is a measurement of the amount of plaque thaat can be made by CT scans or invasive ultrasound (IVUS) studies. It is associated with risk of coronary events in coronary artery disease (CAD).

Exercise training is a cornerstone in primary and secondary prevention of CAD, but the effect of exercise on coronary atheromatous plaques is largely unknown.

A new study assessed the effect of 6 months supervised high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on coronary plaque geometry using IVUS in patients with stable CAD following percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with stents.


Sixty patients were randomized to two sessions of weekly supervised HIIT at 85–95% of peak heart rate (n = 30) or to follow contemporary preventive guidelines (control group, n = 30). The patients were having a heart catheterization for stent placement and were brought back for another catheterization and repeat IVUS study at 6 months time.

The study endpoints were change in percent atheroma volume (PAV) and total atheroma volume (TAV) at 6-month follow-up.

The change in average PAV for matched coronary segments from baseline to follow-up showed a significant difference favoring the HIIT group.

There was a significant reduction in the HIIT group (−1.2) while not in the control group (0.2).

TAVnorm was also reduced after HIIT.


In patients with established CAD, a regression of atheroma volume was observed in those undergoing 6 months of supervised HIIT compared with patients following contemporary preventive guidelines.

This  study indicates that HIIT counteracts atherosclerotic coronary disease progression and reduces atheroma volume in residual coronary atheromatous plaques following PCI with stent measured by invasive IVUS.

The good news is that it is much easier to demonstrate the amount of plaque and the REVERSAL of plaque with coronary CT angiography interpreted with precise AI analysis. 

Get moving, consider HIIT if you are healthy enough to engage in it, and discuss advanced cardiac imaging studies with your cardiology team.

We use the non-invasive CT approach frequently at the Kahn Center and demonstrate impressive plaque reversal using all modalities of care.