If heart disease runs in your family, start exercising now

Bryan Strickland
April 11, 2018

According to new research, people with genetic disturbances that lead to Heart Disease and heart attacks, can reverse some of the potential damage by getting more active.

The said research paper will be published online on Circulation, a scientific journal, with Ingelsson as a senior author.

Among those considered at high genetic risk for heart disease, high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with a 49 percent lower risk for coronary heart disease and a 60 percent lower risk for atrial fibrillation compared with study participants with low cardiorespiratory fitness. "All were associated with lower risk of disease in the future", Dr Ingelsson noted. Those people who were more active showed a decrease of nearly 50 percent of major heart incidents compared to people who were not active in their lifestyle. Higher grip strength and cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with lower risk of incident coronary heart disease and atrial fibrillation in each genetic risk score group (Ptrend 0.001 in each genetic risk category).

The researchers looked at people who had a family or genetic history of heart disease but did not have any current heart problems, and found that overall, exercise lowered their risk of having heart problems over about six years.

To reach this conclusion, researchers looked at data from roughly a half-million people in the UK Biobank database.

The participants' activity levels were monitored via questionnaires, grip strength measurements and other tests.

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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. Heart Disease has a large sub category of ailments including: Heart Attacks, Stroke, Heart Failure and Atrial Fibrillation.

Overall, the goal of the study is set to motivate people to exercise and to hopefully reduce the risk of a heart disease. The researchers say that may be because the participants inaccurately reported their level of physical activity.

Ingelsson explained that observational studies are created to establish trends.

The results were adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, region, socioeconomic status, diabetes, smoking, systolic blood pressure, body mass index and use of lipid medications. This analysis was created to answer two questions: is physical activity and fitness associated with lower risk of cardiovascular events and what effect - if any - does genetic predisposition play in that equation.

Each person in the study was categorized by their risk factors as either: high risk, moderate risk or low risk.

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