It’s no secret that exercise is one of the most powerful preventative measures against heart attacks and cardiovascular disease in general. The more you look after your body, the lower your respective likelihood of suffering a heart attack. However, new evidence also suggests that for those unlucky enough to suffer heart attacks, survival odds may be improved significantly in accordance with their respective exercise habits.
Published this week in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, the study drew direct links between exercise and survival rates following a heart attack.
“We know that exercise protects people against having a heart attack,” commented Professor Eva Prescott, professor of cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
“Animal studies suggest that myocardial infarctions are smaller and less likely to be fatal in animals that exercise. We wanted to see if exercise was linked with less serious myocardial infarctions in people.”
For the purposes of the study, the medical histories of more than 14,000 individuals who had taken part in the Copenhagen City Heart were monitored from 1976 to 2013. The research team was interested in any correlation between immediate deaths following heart attacks and the respective exercise levels of those concerned.
When compiling the data collected on the participants at the end of the study, it was determined those with lights or average physical activity levels were approximately 32% less likely to die following a heart attack. Incredibly, survival odds among those with higher physical activity levels improved by a full 47%.
Evidence therefore suggests that for anyone looking to both ward-off and increase their likelihood of dying following a heart attack, now might be a good time to dust off the home gym, resistance bands and workout DVDs.
“Patients who were sedentary were more likely to die when they got a myocardial infarction and patients who did exercise were more likely to survive. There was also a dose-response relationship, so that the odds of dying if people got a myocardial infarction declined with the level of exercise they did, reaching an almost 50% reduction for those who were the most physically active,” Prescott added.
“One possible explanation is that people who exercise may develop collateral blood vessels in the heart which ensure the heart continues to get enough blood after a blockage,” she continued.
“Exercise may also increase levels of chemical substances that improve blood flow and reduce injury to the heart from a heart attack.”