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Exercise Associated With Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Even in Those With Genetic Predisposition

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. A recent study suggests that exercise may be the best way to ward off cardiovascular disease, even for people with a family history of the ailment.


Participants in the study included 482,702 people between the ages of 40 and 69 who gave consent to have their genetic pre-disposition for disease assessed. The researchers used the International Physical Activity Questionnaire to assess self-reported exercise, as well as wrist-worn accelerometers, hand dynamometers, and submaximal exercise treadmill to objectively assess physical fitness. There were 20,914 reported cardiovascular events during the follow up period, including heart attacks, strokes, atrial fibrillation, and heart failure.


The researchers adjusted results for age, gender, ethnicity, region, socioeconomic status, diabetes, smoking, systolic blood pressure, body mass index, and use of lipid medications.


After examining the data, the researchers found that people with the strongest grips were 36% less likely to develop coronary heart disease and had a 46% lower risk for atrial fibrillation, when compared with those who had the same genetic risks and the weakest grips. Participants with the highest genetic risk for cardiovascular disease and high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness had a 49% lower risk of coronary heart disease and 60% lower risk of atrial fibrillation, when compared with those who had high genetic risk and low cardiorespiratory fitness.


Researchers from Uppsala University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 9, 2018, in the journal Circulation.


Regular exercise may help prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, arthritis and falls. Previous studies have also suggested that exercise can help with memory and thinking.

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