Some may believe that there's little you can to overcome genetics when preventing heartdisease.
Now, in one of the largest observational studies on fitness and heart disease, researchers examined data collected from almost a half-million people in the UK Biobank database. Data from 482,702 participants, aged 40-69, was included in the published analysis.
According to the findings reported in the American Heart Association'sjournal Circulation, 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 predisposition for heart disease. "In particular, it is very good news for the large number of affected patients that they no longer have to worry about deadly heart disease in good medical care and after surviving breast cancer, like women of the same age without breast cancer". The lead author is Emmi Tikkanen, PhD, a former postdoctoral scholar at Stanford who is now senior data scientist at Nightingale Health Ltd.in Finland.
We're "focusing on family history as a major cardiac risk factor, and the fact that this study shows the benefit in this population is additional evidence to reinforce this in our preventative cardiology practices", Dr. Rachel Bond, associate director of Women's Heart Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said, speaking about the benefits of exercise as a preventative measure. Additionally, 468,095 individuals had genome-wide genetic data.
While talking about the participants with high genetic risk, the highest cardiorespiratory fitness levels were associated with a 49 percent lower risk for developing coronary heart disease and a 60 percent lower risk for developing atrial fibrillation compared with study participants with low fitness.
For example, people with an intermediate genetic risk for heart disease who were in the group with the strongest grips were 36 percent less likely to develop heart disease and 46 percent less likely to develop atrial fibrillation than participants with the same genetic risk who had the weakest grips.
A researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden contributed to the study.
Ingelsson says people who are concerned about their heart health-especially if they already have markers of heart conditions-should consult health professionals about exercise plans.
To assess their fitness and activity levels, participants completed grip-strength and stationary-cycling tests, answered questions about levels of physical activity, and wore accelerometers on their wrists for a seven-day period.
Rajiv Bahl, MD, MBA, MS, is an emergency medicine physician and health writer.
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