Avoiding heart disease may be simpler than we have thought. With all the talk about keeping cholesterol low the importance of being physically fit is frequently overlooked when it comes to reducing heart disease. Two studies recently published from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSWMC) highlight that better cardiovascular fitness means better odds of avoiding heart disease.
One study from UTSWMC published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology revealed that low fitness in mid-life is associated with a higher lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease, especially in individuals with other cardiovascular risk factors.
The second study, published in Circulation showed that a single measurement of fitness when added to traditional risk factors significantly improves classification of short-term (10 years) and long-term (25 years) risk of cardiovascular disease.
Both studies involved large numbers of individuals evaluated at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas who were followed for long periods. Fitness was determined by performance during an exercise treadmill test.
In the study published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, which involved 11,049 participants followed for a median 25.3 years found that the lifetime risk for heart disease in those with low fitness compared to those with high fitness was to two to three times higher in the low fitness group at age 45, 55, and 65: at age 45 years, 13.7% versus 3.4%; age 55 years, 34.2% versus 15.3%; age 65 years, 35.6% versus 17.1%.
The Circulation study involved 66,347 individual followed up to 36 years and showed that risk classification improved significantly when fitness was added to the traditional cardiac risk factors such as age, sex, systolic blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, total cholesterol, and smoking.
The findings should not be surprising since exercise and fitness modify many of the traditional cardiac risk factors. Exercise lowers blood pressure, reduces risk of diabetes, and can improve cholesterol.
So take charge of your life and improve your fitness level and improve your odds of avoiding heart disease.
See related articles.