Being physically fit can dramatically reduce men’s deathsfrom heart disease – even when their cholesterol rates are high, saysQueen’s researcher Peter Katzmarzyk.
His new study to bepublished Tues. Sept. 6 by Circulation: Journal of the American HeartAssociation shows that, regardless of their cholesterol level, men cancut by half their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease if they arephysically fit.
Other Queen’s members of the team, from theSchool of Physical and Health Education, are Chris Ardern and IanJanssen. Researchers Timothy Church and Steven Blair from the CooperInstitute Centres for Integrated Health Research in Dallas, Texas, arealso on the team.
The primary aim of the study was to analyze theeffectiveness of last year’s modifications to the guidelines from theU.S. National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III(NCEP ATP III) for lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol to predict death fromcardiovascular diseases.
“We wanted to find out if the newguidelines could identify men at risk for cardiovascular disease,” saysDr. Katzmarzyk. “We confirmed that the guidelines do accuratelyidentify men at risk not only of disease, but also at risk ofcardiovascular death. We also discovered that fitness is importantacross the board – at every level of cholesterol.”
Results alsosuggest that within a given risk category, physical fitness isassociated with a greater than 50-per-cent lower risk of mortality. Inthis study, physical fitness was four to five, 30-minute segments ofactivity per week: equivalent to walking 130 to 138 minutes per week.
Researchersanalyzed the cardiovascular risk factors and cardio-respiratory fitnessof 19,125 men ages 20 to 79, who were treated at a preventive medicineclinic from 1979 -1995, prior to the revised treatment guidelines.
Using the new ATP III classifications:
· 58 per cent of the men would have met the criteria for being “at or below LDL (bad) cholesterol goal”;
·18 per cent would have met the criteria for “therapeutic lifestylechange” – meaning diet, physical activity and weight management couldlower LDL; and
· 24 per cent would have met the criteria for “drug consideration” for lowering LDL.
There were 179 deaths from cardiovascular disease over more than 10 years of follow-up.
Overall, compared to men who met the acceptable LDL level under the revised guidelines:
· Men who met the criteria for therapeutic lifestyle intervention had twice the risk of cardiovascular disease death; and
· Men eligible for aggressive cholesterol-lowering therapy had almost seven-times the risk.
“Loweringthe threshold for consideration of cholesterol-lowering drug therapyfor those at high risk will ultimately save lives and also haveimportant implications for the healthcare system,” says Dr. Katzmarzyk .
The research was partly funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
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