(HealthDay News) – Exercise and drug interventions may be similar regarding their effect on mortality in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, stroke rehabilitation, and prevention of diabetes, according to research published online Oct. 1 in BMJ.

Huseyin Naci, of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and John P.A. Ioannidis, MD, of Stanford University in California, conducted a metaepidemiological study using meta-analyses (four for exercise and 12 for drug therapy) of randomized, controlled trials to examine the comparative effectiveness of exercise vs. drug therapy on mortality outcomes for four common medical conditions.

The researchers found no difference in outcomes for exercise vs. drug interventions for the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and prediabetes. For stroke rehabilitation, exercise was more effective than drug treatments, including anticoagulants (odds ratio [OR], 0.09) and antiplatelets (OR, 0.1). Exercise was less effective than diuretics for heart failure outcomes (OR, 4.11).

“This comprehensive look at the existing body of evidence highlights the need to perform randomized trials on the comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions,” the authors write.

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