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Video: Being In Good Physical Shape Does Not Save You From Heart Disease
Being in good physical shape does not save you from heart disease
It is believed that if middle-aged people exercise more, they will live longer. However, new research suggests that even good physical shape does not always protect against cardiovascular disease, although symptoms are often not visible.
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It is believed that if middle-aged people exercise more, they will live longer. However, new research from the University of British Columbia shows that even good physical fitness does not protect against cardiovascular disease, although symptoms are often not visible.
A study published in BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine highlights how important it is for middle-aged athletes to check for risk factors for cardiovascular problems, especially those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a history of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease refers to conditions in which a narrowing or blockage of blood vessels occurs, which can lead to myocardial infarction, chest pain (angina), or stroke.
“We all know exercise is good for us - it can help prevent a range of health problems and diseases, from cancer to depression,” said Barbara Morrison, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in the Department of Experimental Medicine at the university. "However, even if you are truly active, our results show that you still cannot get around your risk factors."
The study participants were 798 veteran athletes (35 years and older) who exercise with moderate to high intensity at least three times a week. This group included runners, cyclists, triathletes, rowers and hockey players.
Participants were asked a series of questions about their health, family medical history and levels of physical activity. They also checked their blood pressure, measured their waist circumference, and some underwent an electrocardiogram with physical exertion. In the event of abnormal results, a computed tomographic coronary angiography was performed to determine if there was any cardiovascular disease.
94 people (12%) had severe cardiovascular disease, and 10 (1.3%) had severe coronary artery disease (70% or more blockage of the artery) despite the absence of any symptoms.
These results build on previous research, which recognized that veteran athletes have higher rates of cardiovascular disease than non-athletes of the same age with similar risk factors. However, veteran athletes usually have more calcified atherosclerotic plaques (these are more stable and less likely to cause myocardial infarction).
While the findings may sound disturbing, the researchers emphasized that this does not mean that you need to stop exercising. They recommend that you see your doctor regularly and check your health, including blood pressure measurements and cholesterol monitoring, especially if you have a family history of heart attack or stroke. Cardiovascular disease is treatable, and the right medications reduce the risk of death, especially in active people.
Exercise in moderation is essential, explained Barbara Morrison: “There is no evidence that exercising to the limit will make your life longer, or your heart stronger, but if taken to an extreme it can potentially harm. You should never strain so hard that you cannot train the next day."