Genetic Risk of Heart Disease is Reduced by Increased Physical Activity

Representational image

Representational image

"All were associated with lower risk of disease in the future", Dr Ingelsson noted. Many types of heart disease can be passed down genetically through families, and researchers have linked more than five dozen gene variants to an increased risk of developing the disease.

The results showed that those who had higher levels of grip strength, physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness also had a reduced risk of several cardiovascular conditions, including heart attacks, stroke, and atrial fibrillation, even if they had a genetic predisposition for heart disease.

Led by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine along with Uppsala University in Sweden, the team looked at data from 482,702 participants age 40 to 69 in the United Kingdom, making it one of the largest observational studies to be carried out to date on fitness and heart disease.

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For example, people with an intermediate genetic risk for heart disease who were in the group with the strongest grips were 36 percent less likely to develop heart disease and 46 percent less likely to develop atrial fibrillation than participants with the same genetic risk who had the weakest grips.

Even when one is born with high genetic risk for heart disease, keeping fit still works to keep one's heart healthy; this is the latest findings in accordance to a study that is led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. They also self-reported their exercise, wore accelerometers to subjectively measure their daily physical activity, wore hand dynamometers to measure their grip strength, and underwent a cycling test to measure their heart fitness. Researchers determined various levels of genetic risk according to measurements based on discoveries from genomewide association studies, the most common study design to discover genetic variation associated with disease. Heart Disease has a large sub category of ailments including: Heart Attacks, Stroke, Heart Failure and Atrial Fibrillation.

The results were adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, region, socioeconomic status, diabetes, smoking, systolic blood pressure, body mass index and use of lipid medications.

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Erik Ingelsson, MD, PhD, professor of cardiovascular medicine, said that people should not give up exercising as they come with a high genetic risk for heart disease and even if one does not have such high genetic risk, nevertheless, one should not stop exercising.

Each person in the study was categorized by their risk factors as either: high risk, moderate risk or low risk.

Conclusions- Fitness and physical activity demonstrated inverse associations with incident cardiovascular disease in the general population, as well as in individuals with elevated genetic risk for these diseases.

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FMI: The study can be read in full on Circulation's website.

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