A heart attack or even a heart surgery can be a life altering event. For many, it has been a wakeup call to start moving.
According to a study recently conducted, becoming physically active after a heart attack, can actually add to your life.
Conducted by the European Society of Cardiology, exercise after a heart attack halved the risk of death within four years. “It is well known that physically active people are less likely to have a heart attack and more likely to live longer,” said lead author Dr Örjan Ekblom, associate professor, Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Stockholm, Sweden. “However, we did not know the impact of exercise on people after a heart attack.”
22,227 patients in Sweden were included in the study that was conducted between 2005 and 2013. Their levels of physical activity were reported 6–10 weeks and 12 months after the heart attack. The difference between answers was considered a change in physical activity over the year following the heart attack.
On both occasions, patients were asked how many times they had exercised for 30 minutes or longer during the previous seven days. Patients were categorised as constantly inactive, reduced activity, increased activity, or constantly active.
Compared to patients who were constantly inactive, the risk of death was 37%, 51%, and 59% lower in patients in the categories of reduced activity, increased activity, or constantly active, respectively.
Ekblom added, “Our study shows that patients can reduce their risk of death by becoming physically active after a heart attack. Patients who reported being physically active 6 to 10 weeks after the heart attack but became inactive afterwards seem to have a carry-over benefit. But of course the benefits for active people are even greater if they remain physically active.”
“Our study shows that this advice applies to all heart attack patients,” he continued. “Exercise reduced the risk of death in patients with large and small myocardial infarctions, and for smokers and non-smokers, for example.”
Apart from the health benefits, physical activity helps keep the mind strong too.