While we all eagerly await the day where researchers find the cure for all of the world’s diseases, such as cancer, AIDS and cardiovascular disease, we are a way off. However, one element that consistently proves to be an invaluable treatment, particularly in the case of cardiovascular disease and mortality rates, is regular exercise.
Maxime Caru, a doctoral student at the Université de Montréal, recently headed up a study looking at exercise and whether it produced preventative effects on patients with cardiovascular risk factors. The results of the study, recently presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, revealed that even a low level of exercise, can result in preventative effects on some of the key risk factors facing cardiac patients.
Caru states that while it is well-known that exercise can have a positive impact for patients on rehab programs following a cardiovascular episode, little was known about whether being in good physical condition could prevent key risk factors. The evidence suggests that even minor improvements in physical fitness can be enough to make a difference, meaning you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to benefit.
Fighting the risk factors
Heart disease is on the rise, currently accounting for a staggering 31% of global mortality, placing it as the leading cause of death. Much of this increase is down to societal changes that have caused us to be less active, eat more unhealthy foods and generally have less healthy lifestyles. Inevitably, this has made people more susceptible to cardiovascular risk factors including diabetes, obesity, depression, excess weight gain, dyslipidemia and hypertension.
In the study, 205 men and 44 women with cardiovascular disease underwent a cycle ergometer stress test that measured their level of fitness. At the conclusion of the study it was shown that those with a normal fitness level, or even 20% below the average, had enough physical activity to prevent the effects of five out of eight of the risk factors – abdominal circumference, obesity, excess weight, hypertension and diabetes.
It also interesting emphasized the importance of maintaining a good level of fitness to help prevent the onset of depression, which can be a common risk factor amongst cardiac patients.
Understandably at this stage the findings are relatively new, but they do shed light on the link between good fitness levels and reducing the risk factors for cardiac patients. However, before embarking on a new fitness regime, patients are always advised to seek medical advice to find the appropriate level of exercise to suit your condition.