Regular exercise reduces your risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke: Study

Nov 09, 2019
Regular exercise was also shown to help over-60s with disabilities and chronic conditions. Source: Getty

We all know that exercise is good for us, but new research suggests over 60s who exercise one hour per week lower heart disease risk.

Heart disease, which is an umbrella term given to conditions that impact the heart – including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, congestive heart failure and stroke – currently kills around 17.3 million people worldwide each year and claims the life of one Australian every 28 minutes.

The study published in European Heart Journal found over-60s who went from being sedentary to working out three or four times a week reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 11 per cent compared to those who didn’t exercise.

Those who did less moderate or vigorous physical activity as they got older had as much as a 27 per cent increased risk of heart and blood vessel problems.

Regular exercise was also shown to help over-60s with disabilities and chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes.

The study looked at 1,119,925 men and women aged 60 years or older who underwent two health checks by the Korean National Health Insurance Service in 2009-2010 and again in 2011-2012.

Kyuwoong Kim, lead researcher, said: “The most important message from this research is that older adults should increase or maintain their exercise frequency to prevent cardiovascular disease. Globally, this finding is of public health importance because the world’s population aged 60 years and older is expected to total two billion by 2050, which is an increase from 900 million in 2015 according to the World Health Organization.

“While older adults find it difficult to engage in regular physical activity as they age, our research suggests that it is necessary to be more physically active for cardiovascular health, and this is also true for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions.

“We believe that community-based programmes to encourage physical activity among older adults should be promoted by governments. Also, from a clinical perspective, physicians should ‘prescribe’ physical activity along with other recommended medical treatments for people with a high risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Meanwhile, it comes after a previous study found looking on the bright side of life can lower your chances of dying from a heart attack or stroke. The research, which was published in the journal JAMA Network Open, found that optimism is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and overall health.

For the study, researchers compiled data from 15 previous studies involving nearly 230,000 people and found general optimism was linked to a significantly lower risk of heart problems, coronary disease and stroke, while the more pessimistic a person was, the higher the risk. Some of the studies, which were published between 2001 and 2017, looked at cardiovascular events, while others looked at the risk of death from any cause.

“We observed that an optimist had about a 35 per cent lower risk of major heart complications, such as a cardiac death, stroke or a heart attack, compared to the pessimists in each of these studies,” lead author Dr Alan Rozanski said, according to a CNN report.

Meanwhile, the respondents who identified as optimistic were also 14 per cent less likely to suffer a premature death by any cause. The researchers said further studies should investigate the potential benefits of interventions that could promote optimism and reduce pessimism.

“More broadly, the present findings concerning the cardiac benefits of optimism might encourage studies on whether similar benefits can be derived from instilling other positive mindsets (eg, sense of purpose or gratitude) that may be elicited through guided interventions,” the report read.

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What are your thoughts on this study? Do you exercise regularly?

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