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Regular exercise may help people with heart disease in family

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NEW YORK — Regular daily exercise may not only rev up your fitness levels, but it may also significantly cut down risk of heart diseases that could be running in your family, according to the researchers.

Greater grip strength, more physical activity and better cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with reduced risk for heart attacks and stroke — even among people with a genetic pre-disposition for heart disease, researcher said in the the findings published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

The researchers, for the study, looked at data from roughly a half-million people in the UK Biobank database. For participants with an intermediate genetic risk for cardiovascular diseases, it was revealed that those with the strongest grips were 36 per cent less likely to develop coronary heart disease and had a 46 per cent reduction in their risk for atrial fibrillation, compared to study participants with the same genetic risk who had the weakest grips.

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“The main message is that being physically active is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, even if you have a high genetic risk,” said Erik Ingelsson, lead study author and Professor of Medicine at Stanford University’s School of Medicine in California.

To reach this conclusion, researchers looked at data from roughly a half-million people in the UK Biobank database.

“The main message is that being physically active is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, even if you have a high genetic risk,” said Erik Ingelsson, lead study author and Professor of Medicine at Stanford University’s School of Medicine in California.

Among individuals deemed at high genetic risk for cardiovascular diseases, high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with a 49 per cent lower risk for coronary heart disease and a 60 per cent lower risk for atrial fibrillation compared to study participants with low cardiorespiratory fitness.

“The study is not a prescription for a specific type or amount of exercise and because the results come from an observational study, Ingelsson said, adding that “we can’t definitely claim a causal connection.”

Nonetheless, the researchers said the data is robust and the results are worthy for consideration in guidelines.

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Regular physical activity may reduce heart attack risk even in highly polluted areas

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Regular physical activity may reduce the risk of heart attack, even in areas with moderate-to-high levels of traffic pollution, a study has claimed.

Higher levels of pollution were associated with more heart attacks, however, the risk was lower among those who were physically active, the researchers found in the study published in the Journal of the American Heart.

“While exercise is known to reduce cardiovascular disease risk; pollution can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease,” said lead author Nadine Kubesch from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

“Currently there is little data on whether poor air quality cancels out the protective benefits of physical activity in preventing heart attacks,” Kubesch added.

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Researchers in Denmark, Germany and Spain evaluated outdoor physical activity levels (sports, cycling, walking and gardening) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2 pollutant generated by traffic) exposure in 51,868 adults, aged 50-65.

Over a 17.7-year period, there were 2,936 first heart attacks and 324 recurrent heart attacks.

Moderate cycling for four or more hours per week cut risk for recurrent heart attack by 31 per cent; and there was a 58 per cent reduction when all four types of physical activity (together totalling four hours per week or more) were combined, regardless of air quality.

Those who participated in sports had a 15 per cent lower rate of initial heart attacks and there was a 9 per cent risk reduction associated with cycling, regardless of air quality, the researchers said.

Compared to participants with low residential NO2 exposure, those in higher risk areas had a 17 per cent increase risk in first heart attack and 39 per cent for recurrent heart attack, the researchers noted.

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