Exercise — For Your Heart's Sake

Exercise linked to lower risk of death after first heart attack

(RxWiki News) There are many reasons not to be a couch potato, and here may be one more.

In a new study, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Henry Ford Health System found that patients who were more fit were also more likely to survive their first heart attack than those who were less fit.

Lead study author Michael Blaha, MD, MPH, said in a press release, "We knew that fitter people generally live longer, but we now have evidence linking fitness to survival after a first heart attack. It makes sense, but we believe this is the first time there is documentation of that association."

Dr. Blaha is the director of clinical research at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at Johns Hopkins.

For this study, Dr. Blaha and team looked at the medical records of more than 2,000 patients who had no previous history of heart attack. Slightly more than half were white and a little more than a third were women, with an average age of 62.

All patients had completed a treadmill stress test. A part of this test called the metabolic equivalent score (MET) shows how much energy a patient consumes both at rest and during exercise.

MET scores range from 1 to 12, with higher scores indicating better fitness. A score of 1 is the equivalent of sitting on a couch. A 12 is equivalent to sprinting.

Dr. Blaha and team found that patients who had MET scores of 10 or higher were about 40 percent more likely to survive their first heart attack than patients with lower scores.

Researchers noted that a higher MET score didn't influence whether a patient had a heart attack, but did influence survival. Dr. Blaha and team were also not able to determine whether increasing a patient's MET score could decrease his or her risk of death from heart attack.

The study was published Feb. 1 in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

No funding sources and conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
February 1, 2016