Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Even for the Overweight, Exercise Helps the Heart

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Study finds changes in physical fitness affect disease risk at any weight.

Few studies are available on the associations of changes in fitness and fatness with the subsequent incidence of the cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors of hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and hypercholesterolemia.

New research Duck-chul Lee, a research fellow at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia and colleagues shows that getting and staying physically fit might help fend off heart disease even if you've put on a few kilograms, new research suggests.

The researchers followed up 3,148 healthy adults who received at least 3 medical examinations from 1979 to 2006. Fitness was determined by using a maximal treadmill test. Fatness was expressed by percent body fat and body mass index. Changes in fitness and fatness between the first and second examinations were categorized into loss, stable, or gain groups.

During the 6-year follow-up after the second examination, 752, adults developed hypertension, 426 developed metabolic syndrome*, and 597 adults hypercholesterolemia.

Maintaining or improving fitness was associated with lower risk of developing any of these three risk factors. Those who maintained fitness has a 24 percent lower risk of high blood pressure, 38 percent lower risk of metabolic syndrome and 25 percent lower risk of high cholesterol. Those who gained fitness reduced their risk of each about the same or slightly more.

Increasing fatness was associated with higher risk of developing one of the risk factors. Gaining fat put the men and women at 24 percent higher risk of getting high blood pressure, 52 percent higher risk of getting metabolic syndrome and 41 percent higher risk of high cholesterol.

In the joint analyses, the increased risks associated with fat gain appeared to be attenuated, although not completely eliminated, when fitness was maintained or improved. In addition, reducing fat seemed to offset part of the higher risk linked with losing fitness.

Reduce risk of developing CVD risk factors by loosing fat and gaining or maintaining fitness

Being fit and not being fat work independently to reduce risk factors. Pay attention if not to both at least to one

This article will appear in the Feb. 14 edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Lee DC, Sui X, Church TS, et al. Changes in fitness and fatness on the development of cardiovascular disease risk factors. J Am Coll Cardiol 2012; 59:665-672. DOI:10.1016.j.jacc.2011.11.013.

* Metabolic syndrome is a group of signs that raise the risk of diabetes and heart disease. To be diagnosed, someone must have at least three of the five signs: large waist (abdominal obesity), high triglycerides, low "good" cholesterol, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar.

CLICK HERE for more about metabolic syndrome from the American Heart Association.

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