People who suffer from heart or blood vessel problems benefit more from a physically active lifestyle than people without cardiovascular disease, according to a new investigation of more than 440,000 individuals.
With exercise, participants with cardiovascular disease reduced their mortality risk by 14% over a six-year period. And relative risk continued to fall as the amount of exercise increased. In comparison, those without cardiovascular disease who exercised reduced their risk by 7%, the researchers found. Meanwhile, the risk for participants with a totally sedentary lifestyle was 27% higher than that of the most active participants.
“The more exercise people did, the lower their risk of death during the six years of follow-up,” reported Sang-Woo Jeong, M.D., Seoul National University.
The researchers noted that about half of the participants did not reach recommended levels of exercise, and a quarter were sedentary. For people aged 65 years and older, the recommendations are 30 minutes, five days a week of moderate aerobic exercise, and 1.5 hours per week of vigorous exercise, according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
The added benefit of activity for those with cardiovascular disease may be due to a number of factors, the researchers surmised. A sedentary lifestyle is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so the change in activity level in the CVD sufferers may have been greater than that of their peers. In addition, physical activity helps to control cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose. And finally, physical activity lowers inflammation, which has been shown to contribute to heart problems.
The new study is the first to compare the benefits in people with and without cardiovascular disease, the researchers asserted. Health data was gathered from people enrolled in a Korean national health insurance cohort who underwent a health screening from 2009 and 2015. The average age was 60 years, and slightly more than half the subjects were men.
The study was presented Sunday at a gathering of the world’s leading cardiologists in Paris.