Genetic Risk of Heart Disease is Reduced by Increased Physical Activity


Overall, the goal of the study is set to motivate people to exercise and to hopefully reduce the risk of a heart disease. Data from 482,702 participants, aged 40-69, was included in the published analysis.

The study appears online in the journal Circulation. The lead author is Emmi Tikkanen, PhD, a former postdoctoral scholar at Stanford who is now senior data scientist at Nightingale Health Finland.

When they entered the study, none of the participants had any evidence of heart disease.

"People should not just give up on exercise because they have a high genetic risk for heart disease", said Erik Ingelsson, MD, PhD, professor of cardiovascular medicine.

Exercise, especially cardio fitness, could outweigh genetics when it comes to heart disease, according to new research.

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For example, people with an intermediate genetic risk for heart disease who were in the group with the strongest grips were 36 percent less likely to develop heart disease and 46 percent less likely to develop atrial fibrillation than participants with the same genetic risk who had the weakest grips.

The researchers looked at people who had a family or genetic history of heart disease but did not have any current heart problems, and found that overall, exercise lowered their risk of having heart problems over about six years.

Results-Grip strength, physical activity, and cardiorespiratory fitness showed inverse associations with incident cardiovascular events (coronary heart disease: hazard ratio [HR], 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.77- 0.81; HR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.93-0.97; and HR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.63-0.74, per SD change, respectively; atrial fibrillation: HR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.73- 0.76; HR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.91-0.95; and HR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.56-0.65, per SD change, respectively).

For both treatments, they found no increase in the risk of death from heart disease.

The study's co-author, Dr Hermann Brenner from the German Cancer Research Centre, said: 'We consider the result of our study to be very positive for the treatment of breast cancer.

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"The study found that people who were brisk walkers had significantly lower cardiac and all-cause death, which makes sense, because those people have higher cardiorespiratory fitness", Dr. Ahmed says. But the new study suggests interventions to encourage people to exercise could pay off.

The research is important - and timely, said Dr. Russell Pate, a professor in the University of South Carolina's Department of Exercise Science in the Arnold School of Public Health.

"The results of the UK Biobank study serve to importantly reinforce a key principle in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: Activity matters", said Muñoz.

To assess their fitness and activity levels, participants completed grip-strength and stationary-cycling tests, answered questions about levels of physical activity, and wore accelerometers on their wrists for a seven-day period. "It lends further credence to an increasingly understood notion in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: Sitting is the new smoking".

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