New research suggests that exercise can ward off heart disease even if the patient has a family history of the condition.
Researchers found that middle-aged and older adults who exercised had a lower risk of developing heart disease over a period of six years. The study involved 500,000 participants.
Researchers explained that working out does not simply eliminate the genetic risk of heart disease. But people who have a family history of clogged arteries and heart conditions are better off staying physically active.
It’s likely that if you try to improve your fitness level through exercise, you’ll benefit,
lead author Erik Ingelsson, MD, said.
It remains unclear how much exercise a person with a genetic risk of heart disease needs to stay healthy. The research team has not focused on a specific exercise regimen.
In the study, researchers tracked the heart rate of participants during stationary bike workout. They also tracked those participants for six years. The team found that regardless of the genetic risk, people who exercised regularly trimmed their risk of heart disease significantly.
People who were the most likely to develop the condition but who had the highest fitness levels had a 49% lower risk of being diagnosed with a coronary heart disease than people who didn’t exercise at all. Also, this group had 60% lower risk of being affected by atrial fibrillation.
Coronary heart disease occurs when heart arteries get narrower, which hinders the blood flow and adds a lot of pressure on the heart. In time, the condition can lead to heart attack of stroke. Atrial fibrillation boosts the risk of heart failure and stroke.
American Heart Association’s Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum praised the study for pointing out once more that exercise is indeed the best medicine.
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