Exercise Best Defense for Those at Genetic Risk for CVD

Benefit of exercise against cardiovascular disease notable even among those at high genetic risk
Benefit of exercise against cardiovascular disease notable even among those at high genetic risk

HealthDay News — Fitness and physical activity are tied to lower risk of incident cardiovascular disease in the general population and among individuals with elevated genetic risk for cardiovascular diseases, according to a study published online April 9 in Circulation.

Emmi Tikkanen, PhD, from Stanford University in California, and colleagues evaluated correlations for physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness with cardiovascular events and all-cause death among 502,635 individuals from the U.K. Biobank. Additionally, associations were assessed based on stratification by genetic risk scores for coronary heart disease and atrial fibrillation. 

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The researchers found that grip strength, physical activity, and cardiorespiratory fitness were inversely associated with incident cardiovascular events (coronary heart disease: hazard ratios, 0.79, 0.95, and 0.68, respectively; atrial fibrillation: hazard ratios, 0.75, 0.93, and 0.60, respectively). For each genetic risk score group, higher grip strength and cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with lower risk of incident coronary heart disease and atrial fibrillation (P<0.001 in each genetic risk category). Notably, high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with a 49% lower risk for coronary heart disease and a 60% lower risk for atrial fibrillation among individuals at high genetic risk for these diseases.

"Fitness and physical activity demonstrated inverse associations with incident cardiovascular disease in the general population, as well as in individuals with elevated genetic risk for these diseases," the authors write.

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