Physical Activity Lowers Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke: Study

November 10, 2017
Editor: Yulanda Wang

Higher levels of physical activity, regardless of types, are associated with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a seven-year study of half a million adult men and women in China.

In the study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Cardiology, researchers looked at 500,000 adults who were aged 30 to 79 years with no prior cardiovascular disease history when enrolled from 10 urban and rural areas in China.

After 7.5 years of follow-up, there were 5,000 new heart attacks, 25,000 ischemic strokes, 5200 intracerebral haemorrhages and 8,400 cardiovascular deaths among these study participants, said the researchers from the University of Oxford, Peking University and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

Then, the researchers analyzed the associations of these disease outcomes with self-reported total, occupational, and non-occupational physical activity, which were quantified as metabolic equivalent of task (MET) hours per day.

MET is the ratio of the rate of energy expended during an activity to the rate of energy expended at rest.

It turned out the mean total physical activity in this adult Chinese population was 22 MET hours per day, much higher than those typically seen in Western populations, with 62 percent due to occupation-related activities.

Those with higher total physical activity tended to be male, younger, living in rural areas, and to have lower levels of education than those with lower physical activity.

Higher total physical activity was also associated with better health, including lower prevalence of diabetes or hypertension, lower measured blood pressure, heart rates and body mass index.

Individuals in the top fifth group of physical activity had a 23 percent lower risk of major vascular events such as heart disease and stroke compared with those in the bottom fifth.

In addition, each four MET hours per day higher physical activity, corresponding to about one hour brisk walking per day, was associated on average with a 9 percent lower risk for heart attack, a 6 percent lower risk for stroke and a 12 percent lower risk for cardiovascular disease death.

The association was similar across different study areas and in both men and women, but among those with hypertension, most of whom were poorly controlled, the beneficial effects of physical activity were much weaker than those with normal blood pressure, especially for stroke.

"Our study provides strong supporting evidence to reinforce current guidelines that promote any physical activity for cardiovascular disease prevention," Professor Zhengming Chen from the University of Oxford, one of the study's senior authors, said in a statement.

"The study findings should help to improve prevention and management of major cardiovascular outcomes in China and elsewhere."

(Source: Global Times)

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