New Year’s Resolutions to Exercise Pay Off for Heart Disease Patients

ACSM research links exercise with reduced risk of death in patients with existing heart disease

INDIANAPOLIS – In all parts of the world, the start of a  new year inspires adults to give up junk food, join a gym or make  healthier choices. For one group, the resolution to become more active  could literally be the difference between life and death. Research  released today by the American College of Sports Medicine finds that  being more physically active can help adults suffering from heart  disease keep premature death at bay.

The study, “Physical  Activity and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk: Possible Protective  Mechanisms?” is published in this month’s issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®,  the official journal of ACSM. The research team, which included Lee  Ingle, Ph.D., examined the relationship between moderate-to-vigorous  physical activity and mortality risk in patients with cardiovascular  disease.

“It is well established that regular,  moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces the risk of future  cardiac events in healthy individuals and individuals with existing  cardiovascular disease,” said Ingle, an academic with the Carnegie  Research Institute at Leeds Metropolitan University in the United  Kingdom. “What are not well understood are the biological mechanisms  responsible for reducing the burden of risk. We examined the extent to  which changes in typical cardiovascular risk factors explained the  association between physical activity and death in individuals with  cardiovascular disease.”

The study included 1,429 participants,  both male and female, with physician-diagnosed heart disease. At a  baseline visit, participants reported demographic information, health  status, disease history, smoking habits and physical activity levels.  Shortly after the baseline visit, nurses recorded medication and body  mass, collected blood samples, and measured blood pressure and resting  heart rate. Within seven years, 446 of the 1,429 participants died.  Death certificates linked 213 of the deaths to cardiovascular disease.

Participation  in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least three times per week  was associated with a much lower risk of cardiovascular-related death.  Physically active participants demonstrated significantly lower levels  of body mass, diabetes and inflammatory risk. Metabolic risk factors  (including body mass index, total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio, and  physician-diagnosed diabetes) and inflammatory markers (including  C-reactive protein) explained an estimated 12.8 percent and 15.4  percent, respectively, of the association between physical activity and  mortality risk.

“The main finding from this study was that  moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces the risk of future  cardiac events, in part, by improving metabolic and inflammatory risk  markers in patients with cardiovascular disease,” said Ingle.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart diseases is the leading cause of death in the U.S. The Exercise is Medicine® initiative offers public tools to help adults combat chronic conditions, such as heart disease, with physical activity.


The  American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and  exercise science organization in the world. More than 45,000  international, national and regional members and certified professionals  are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to  provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and  sports medicine.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® is the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, and  is available from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins at 1-800-638-6423.  For a complete copy of the research paper (Vol. 44, No. 1, pages 84-88)  or to speak with a leading sports medicine expert on the topic, contact  the Department of Communications and Public Information at 317-637-9200  ext. 133 or 127.

The conclusions outlined in this news release  are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an  official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.


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Filed under Babyboomers, Conditions & Diseases, Heath & Wellness

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