Diabetes, Heart and Cardiovascular Diseases News Chronicle.  Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Heart Diseases
 Article 336
    Published on July 10, 2018


Cardiovascular fitness helps fight the genetic risk of heart disease

A largest observational study on fitness and heart diseases by the researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine shows a reduction in risk of heart diseases such as heart attack and stroke with high levels of grip strength, total physical activity, and cardiorespiratory fitness. The study shows even an individual with high genetic risk for heart disease can get this heart health benefits with a mixture of genes and environment.


The study includes 482,702 people, aged 40-69 years with an average age of 57 years. About 54 percent of the participants were women. All of them are without any cardiovascular events at the start of the study. Researchers used UK Biobank database for this purpose. Researchers have done follow-up studies for a median of 6.1 years.

Researchers have collected genetic data and fitness and total physical activity levels of all the participants. They collected this information from the UK Biobank database.

  • Grip-strength measurement corresponding with overall body strength.
  • Each participant's level of total physical activity.
  • Cardiorespiratory fitness.

The results show an inverse association between fitness and total physical activity and several cardiovascular events including atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib), stroke and coronary artery disease.

Among participants with a high genetic risk for heart disease, researchers observed following among individuals with a high level of cardiorespiratory fitness compared with low levels.

Heart disease event The risk reduction
Coronary heart disease 49 percent
Atrial fibrillation 60 percent

Among participants with intermediate genetic risk for cardiovascular diseases, researchers observed following among individuals with the strongest grips when compared with the weakest grips.


Heart disease event The risk reduction
Coronary heart disease 36 percent
Atrial fibrillation 46 percent

Study findings were adjusted for the factors such as age, male or female, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and health factors such as smoking, diabetes, body mass index (BMI), systolic blood pressure and lipid-regulating drug usage.

These study findings suggest that factors such as total physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and grip strength will keep the heart healthy even for people with a family history or genetic risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases.


Coronary heart disease and atrial fibrillation risk reduction in people with a family history or genetic risk.

The senior author of the study was Erik Ingelsson, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine (Cardiovascular Medicine), Stanford University and the lead author of the study was Emmi Tikkanen, Ph.D., Senior Data Scientist, Nightingale Health Ltd. The study findings were published April 9, 2018 in the Circulation. Title of the article was "Associations of Fitness, Physical Activity, Strength, and Genetic Risk With Cardiovascular Disease: Longitudinal Analyses in the UK Biobank Study." DOI: doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.032432




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