Physical activity associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease and stroke

Taking exercise may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Question

Does physical activity reduce risk of coronary heart disease and stroke in older adults?

What was done?

4207 participants with an average age of 73 years were followed for 10 years, collecting data on physical activity and the development of cardiovascular disease.

What was found?

Greater physical activity was associated with reduced coronary heart disease, stroke and total cardiovascular disease, even in those aged >75.

How does this affect me?

Participating in physical activity, e.g. walking, may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease at any age.

Article Abstract

Background—While guidelines suggest that older adults engage in regular physical activity (PA) to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD), surprisingly few studies have evaluated this relationship, especially in those older than 75 years. Additionally, with advancing age the ability to perform some types of PA might decrease, making light-moderate exercise such as walking especially important to meet recommendations.

Methods and Results—Prospective cohort analysis among 4207 US men and women of mean age 73 years (SD=6) who were free of CVD at baseline in the Cardiovascular Health Study and followed from 1989 to 1999. PA was assessed and cumulatively updated over time to minimize misclassification and assess long-term effects of habitual activity. Walking (pace, blocks, combined walking score) was updated annually from baseline through 1999. Leisure-time activity and exercise intensity were updated at baseline, 1992, and 1996. Incident CVD (fatal or nonfatal myocardial infarction, coronary death, or stroke) was adjudicated using medical records. During 41 995 person-years of follow-up, 1182 CVD events occurred. After multivariable adjustment, greater PA was inversely associated with coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke (especially ischemic stroke), and total CVD, even in those 75 years and older. Walking pace, distance, and overall walking score, leisure-time activity, and exercise intensity were each associated with lower risk. For example, compared with a walking pace under 2 mph, those that habitually walked at a pace above 3 mph had lower risk of CHD (0.50; CI:0.38-0.67), stroke (0.47; CI:033-0.66) and CVD (0.50; CI:0.40-0.62).

Conclusions—These data provide empiric suggestion supporting PA recommendations, in particular walking, to reduce incidence of CVD among older adults.

Link to full article.

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