September 5, 2008
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Any level of leisure time physical activity appears to curb the risk of death among men and women with coronary heart disease, researchers report.
People with heart disease frequently limit their physical activity due to shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, circulation problems in the legs, or other symptoms of the disease.
However, men and women with coronary heart disease should “do whatever they can to avoid being sedentary,” Dr. Anil Nigam told Reuters Health.
Nigam, of Montreal Heart Institute in Quebec, Canada and colleagues evaluated leisure time physical activity among 14,021 generally middle-aged men and women with heart disease who had artery-clearing procedures between 1974 and 1979.
After following these individuals for an average of 14.7 years, the investigators found that decreasing leisure time physical activity levels correlated with increasing death rates,
Over the course of the study, the death rate was lowest (30 percent) among men and women involved in strenuous recreation such as endurance activities or competitive team sports. Men and women reporting moderate or mild activity levels had higher overall death rates of 35 and 40 percent, respectively.
By contrast, the death rate was highest (42 percent) among men and women reporting leisure activities that primarily involved sitting, the investigators report in the American Journal of Cardiology.
Sedentary folks, versus those more physically active, were 1.6 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease or other causes over the long term.
This risk lessened only slightly after the investigators accounted for the influence of age, gender, history of smoking, body weight, cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart function.
In their final analysis, only sedentary people had significantly higher risk of death. This demonstrates “people with coronary heart disease need to be physically active to improve their overall health and survival,” Nigam said.