Mechanisms of preconditioning exercise-induced neurovascular protection in stroke

Sherif Hafez, Zeina Eid, Sara Alabasi, Yasenya Darwiche, Sara Channaoui, David C. Hess

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Ischemic stroke is a leading cause of death and disability. Tissue plasminogen activator is the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved thrombolytic therapy for ischemic stroke patients till date. However, its use is limited due to increased risk of bleeding and narrow therapeutic window. Most of the preclinically tested pharmacological agents failed to be translated to the clinic. This drives the need for alternative therapeutic approaches that not only provide enhanced neuroprotection, but also reduce the risk of stroke. Physical exercise is a sort of preconditioning that provides the body with brief ischemic episodes that can protect the body from subsequent severe ischemic attacks like stroke. Physical exercise is known to improve cardiovascular health. However, its role in providing neuroprotection in stroke is not clear. Clinical observational studies showed a correlation between regular physical exercise and reduced risk and severity of ischemic stroke and better outcomes after stroke. However, the underlying mechanisms through which prestroke exercise can reduce the stroke injury and improve the outcomes are not completely understood. The purpose of this review is to: demonstrate the impact of exercise on stroke outcomes and show the potential role of exercise in stroke prevention and recovery; uncover the underlying mechanisms through which exercise reduces the neurovascular injury and improves stroke outcomes aiming to develop novel therapeutic approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-326
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Stroke
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Exercise therapy
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Neuroprotection
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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