LONDON: Moderate physical activity is associated with a greater than 50 per cent reduction in cardiovascular death in over-65s, a new study has claimed.
The 12 year study in nearly 2,500 adults aged 65 to 74 years found that moderate physical activity reduced the risk of an acute cardiovascular event by more than 30 per cent.
High levels of physical activity led to greater risk reductions, researchers said.
“The role of physical activity in preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD) in people of working age is well established,” said Professor Riitta Antikainen from the University of Oulu in Finland.
“But relatively little is known about the effect of regular physical activity on CVD risk in older people,” said Antikainen.
The study assessed the association between leisure time physical activity and CVD risk and mortality in 2,456 men and women aged 65 to 74 years who were enrolled into the National FINRISK Study between 1997 and 2007.
Baseline data collection included self-administered questionnaires on physical activity and other health related behaviour, clinical measurements (blood pressure, weight and height), and laboratory measurements including serum cholesterol.
During a median follow-up of 11.8 years, 197 participants died from CVD and 416 had a first CVD event.
When the researchers assessed the link between physical activity and outcome they adjusted for other cardiovascular risk factors (blood pressure, smoking and cholesterol) and social factors (marital status and education).
To minimise reverse causality, where worse health leads to less physical activity, patients with coronary heart disease, heart failure, cancer, or prior stroke at baseline were excluded from the analysis.
The investigators found that moderate and high leisure time physical activity were associated with a 31 per cent and 45 per cent reduced risk of an acute CVD event, respectively.
Moderate and high leisure time physical activity were associated with a 54 per cent and 66 per cent reduction in CVD mortality, researchers said.
“Our study provides further evidence that older adults who are physically active have a lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease,” Antikainen said.
“The protective effect of leisure time physical activity is dose dependent – in other words, the more you do, the better. Activity is protective even if you have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol,” she said. (AGENCIES)