Heart disease patients live longer if active, not if thin

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workout may help diabetes
workout may help diabetes

Study finds weight loss may be associated with higher mortality in patients who are normal weight at start

Weight may be overrated as a measure of longevity in people with coronary artery disease.

Increased physical activity, not weight loss, gives individuals with coronary heart disease a longer lease on life, suggests a new study. It was conducted at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

NTNU researchers have found that heart disease patients can gain weight without jeopardizing their health. However sitting in their recliner incurs significant health risks.

Weight loss seems to be associated with increased mortality for participants in the study who were normal weight at baseline. The survey, which is an observational study based on data from HUNT (the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study), was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

Researcher Trine Moholdt in NTNU’s Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging collaborated on the study with cardiologist Carl J. Lavie at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, and Javaid Nauman at NTNU.

They studied 3307 individuals (1038 women) with coronary heart disease from HUNT. Data from HUNT constitute Norway’s largest collection of health information about a population. A total of 120,000 people have consented to making their anonymized health information available for research, and nearly 80,000 individuals have released blood tests.

HUNT patients were examined in 1985, 1996 and 2007, and followed up to the end of 2014. The data from HUNT were compared with data from the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry.

During the 30-year period, 1493 of the participants died and 55 per cent of the deaths were due to cardiovascular disease.

The study revealed that people who are physically active live longer than those who are not. Sustained physical activity over time was associated with substantially lower mortality risk

“This study is important because we’ve been able to look at change over time, and not many studies have done that, so I am forever grateful to HUNT and the HUNT participants,” said Moholdt.

The study revealed that people who are physically active live longer than those who are not. Sustained physical activity over time was associated with substantially lower mortality risk.

Participants in the study were divided into three categories: inactive; slightly physically active, but below recommended activity level; and physically active at or above recommended activity level.

The recommended activity level is at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity or 60 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity.

The risk of premature death was higher for the group of patients who were completely inactive than for either of the other groups. The prognosis for people who exercise a little bit, even if it is below the recommended level, is better than not exercising at all.

“Even being somewhat active is better than being inactive, but patients have to maintain the activity level. Physical activity is perishable – if you snooze you lose its benefits,” Moholdt says.

HUNT participants were asked how hard the exercise activity was for them. Moholdt points out that this is a good way to determine the intensity of the exercise. A half-hour walk can be experienced very differently depending on how fit the person is.

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