Are you genetically predisposed to heart disease (e.g., Dad had heart attack in his 40s) and have blown off exercise, thinking, “What’s the use?” Well, you’d better rethink that approach.
A report in Circulation (April 2018) says that, according to a study of data drawn from half a million individuals (40 to 69) in the UK Biobank database, higher levels of physical activity are linked to a lower risk of heart attack and stroke – even in people genetically prone to heart disease.
A strong grip is associated with reduced mortality from heart problems. Having a stronger grip tends to come with exercise.
Thus, it’s no surprise that the study showed that people with the strongest grip were 36 percent less likely to suffer coronary artery disease when compared to adults with the same genetic risk of heart disease – but the weakest grip strength.
They also had a 46 percent lower risk for atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder, when compared to weak grip subjects.
A high level of aerobic fitness, in people with a high genetic risk for heart disease, was associated with a 49 percent reduced risk for clogged arteries, and a 60 percent reduced risk of atrial fibrillation – when compared to those with low aerobic fitness.
“The main message of this study is that being physically active is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, even if you have a high genetic risk,” explains Erik Ingelsson, MD, in the paper.
Limitations of the Study
• The study did not investigate the amount of exercise or specific type.
• Cause and effect was not established; only an associative link was found.
The report explains that the data was compelling enough to get sedentary people with a genetic predisposition to heart disease MOVING.
The results were adjusted for gender, age, location, diabetes, smoking, body mass index, systolic blood pressure and use of cholesterol drugs.
Family History of Heart Disease?
People make all sorts of excuses not to exercise. It’s not unheard of for someone to say, “Gee, I have a family history of heart disease; two uncles died of heart attacks in their 50s — and my sister was diagnosed with heart disease at age 35 despite going to the gym, so what’s the use of working out?”
Exercise has a slew of benefits. If a family history of heart disease, or a confirmed genetic source of heart disease, has you in doubt about the wonders of exercise, look at it this way:
• Exercise improves brain health and helps prevent brain shrinkage in old age.
• Regular workouts reduce the risk of crippling knee and hip arthritis.
• Structured physical activity gives you more energy and lowers the risk of some cancers.