We all know that diet and exercise is important for a healthy body. The problem is that diet and especially exercise are hard and tiring. Nobody wants to spend hours pointlessly sweating when there’s a new episode of Game of Thrones to watch. But thanks to science, there might be a better way.
The heart is a muscle, and like any muscle it has to be exercised regularly in order to stay in shape. As the heart exercises more, it grows larger and is able to pump blood more effectively. Researchers at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute have found a protein that—at least in mice—reproduces that growth effect without exercise.
In other words, the researchers have found a way to trick your heart into thinking you’re keeping up on your cardio.
The protein, cardiotrophin 1 (CT1), might be useful for more than just faking a healthy lifestyle. It could someday be used to treat patients recovering from heart attacks. Heart attacks cause parts of the heart to die or form scar tissue. This cripples the heart’s ability to pump blood. Normally, the heart grows back that tissue in an unhealthy way that doesn’t improve circulation.
CT1 could change that. In mouse and rat tests, it stimulated healthy growth of heart tissue after heart attacks, in contrast to the unhealthy growth that normally occurs. The hearts treated with CT1 managed to regain most of their strength. This could mean faster, more thorough recoveries from heart failure.
Of course, CT1 still has a long way to go before your doctor can start prescribing it. The team hopes that soon they can start testing the drug on human patients, and if those human trials go well you might be able to start using CT1 to fool your heart—or recover from a heart attack—pretty soon.
Source: Ottawa Hospital Research Institute via New Atlas
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.