(HealthDay News) – Physical activity during work or leisure time is associated with a significantly lower risk of myocardial infarction (MI), according to a multinational study published online January 11 in the European Heart Journal.

Claes Held, M.D., Ph.D., of Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues conducted a case control study using data from patients enrolled in the INTERHEART study in 52 countries. They evaluated survey results from 10,043 patients who had their first MI and 14,217 controls who did not report previous angina or physical disability.

The researchers found that, compared with sedentary individuals, those subjects whose occupation involved either light or moderate physical activity were at a lower risk of MI (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.78 and 0.89, respectively), whereas those whose occupation involved heavy physical labor were not at decreased risk (OR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.88 to 1.19). Mild exercise and moderate or strenuous exercise had a protective effect (OR, 0.87 and 0.76, respectively). Across countries with low, middle, and high incomes, the effect of physical activity was observed. Individuals who owned both a car and a television had a significantly increased risk of MI compared with those who owned neither (multivariable-adjusted OR, 1.27).

“Leisure-time physical activity and mild-to-moderate occupational physical activity, but not heavy physical labor, were associated with a reduced risk, while ownership of a car and TV was associated with an increased risk of MI across all economic regions,” the authors write.

The INTERHEART study was funded by various pharmaceutical companies.

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