People with cardiovascular disease could benefit even more from regular physical activity than healthy people. At least that's what South Korean doctors say about Sang-Woo Jeong of Seoul National University after a study in the European Heart Journal.
The cardiologist Martin Halle from the Technical University of Munich, who was not involved in the work, speaks of an "immense effect size". Now one could even more strongly advise patients with cardiovascular diseases to do sports.
The study looked at more than 440,000 South Korean women and men aged 60 and over who participated in a health insurance investigation program. About 130,000 of them had been diagnosed with a heart or vascular disease - such as a heart attack, stroke, chronic heart failure or coronary heart disease. The remaining 310,000 participants were healthy in this regard.
All subjects stated in a questionnaire how much they were moving. The magnitude of the movement was then compared to the deaths in the next six or so years. Result: The cardiovascular patients significantly reduced their risk of death with physical activity than the healthy participants.
Sleep better, feel better, work better
"People with cardiovascular disease moved a little less than the other participants, but the more sport people did, the lower the risk of death over the next six years," Jeong said in a statement from the journal.
Those patients who went afloat or moved about five times a week for half an hour reduced their risk of dying within the six years by 14 percent. In healthy subjects, comparable exercise reduced mortality by only 7 percent. In addition, the values in the healthy hardly increased if they drifted even more sports. Cardiac patients, on the other hand, profited even more with significantly more intensive activity.
The most athletic of the cardiac patients even achieved a similarly high or even lower risk of dying during the study period than the subjects, who were heart-healthy but did not exercise at all.
more on the subject
"A number of past studies have shown that physical activity helps to control risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar," said co-author Si-Hyuck Kang. "People who are physically active sleep better, feel better, and work better."
However, the current study also has weaknesses. Thus, the estimation of how much the participants moved based only on self-reported data at the beginning of the study. In addition, the results could be distorted because people who are healthier are also doing more exercise and eating healthier foods.
"If sports were a drug, then a blockbuster"
Nevertheless, Halle is sure: "If sports were a drug, then a blockbuster - everyone would prescribe it." The Medical Director of the Center for Prevention and Sports Medicine at Klinikum rechts der Isar points out, however, that the study focused on sports, but not on other physical activities such as vacuuming or other housework.
"What patients need to do to achieve the effects is not all that bad," says Halle, who also belongs to the scientific advisory board of the German Heart Foundation. "Physical activity only counted in the study when it was done for at least 30 minutes at a time, and only 20 min at the highest intensity, so it means not a little here and there, but longer units."
It was also important that the patients in the study not only lowered their risk of death through exercise, but also took medication. Nevertheless, the expert emphasizes: "Now one can even more forcefully advise patients that they should take time out for sports."
Also in the health care system, a rethinking can be initiated: "For motivation purposes, the typical sports groups for heart patients, which are funded by the health insurance, well suited," says Halle. "However, once or twice a week is not enough for three quarters of an hour every day 30 minutes brisk walking: This is the right dose for a patient with cardiovascular disease."