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What Your Fitness Level Can Tell You: Can You Out Run Your Heart Attack Risk?
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What Your Fitness Level Can Tell You: Can You Out Run Your Heart Attack Risk?

According to two studies, both performed by researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center,.a very simple test can help doctors predict a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke and may even be able to calculate their risk of dying from those conditions when it is used in conjunction with other testing procedures. This test, may help in predicting the fatality factors for men and could also be used as an early warning sign for women.

Heart disease is currently a leading killer of women in the United States, however, part of the problem is that women below age 50 are often difficult to assess for risk factors. Using the treadmill test may give doctors the ability to warn these women, particularly those with additional heart disease risk factors that they need to regain control of their own health destinies. Risk factors for heart disease for both men and women can include smoking, weight, exercise levels, total cholesterol and family history. Diabetes and high blood pressure can also play a role in heart disease.

In the first of the studies, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the heart and stroke risk factors of men of three different ages were assessed. Those men, ages 45, 55 and 65, were given a series of test which included those for the more traditional heart attack risk factors, including their blood pressure, diabetes, total cholesterol numbers and whether or not they smoked. In addition to those assessments, the doctors had each of the men run one mile on a treadmill while being monitored. The researchers found that the lower the level of fitness, the higher the risk of heart disease, particularly fatal incidents would become. A 55 year old man who could run the mile in less than ten minutes, for instance, had a less than ten percent chance of dying from a heart attack or stroke while a man of the same age who took fifteen minutes to run the same distance, had a 30% of a fatal heart attack.

The second study, this one published in Circulation, showed that the same type of treadmill test could be used to predict potential heart disease risks better than the other testing procedures currently being used and when used in addition to those tests, gave a clearer picture of the overall health of the person in question. for instance, a man who had bad total cholesterol numbers and an elevated blood pressure as well as reduced fitness levels would know that his risk of having a heart attack or stroke would be much higher than that of a man of the same age with better results for two or more of the tests performed.

Doctors and other experts have long been trying to connect exercise to overall heart health but their advice has been falling on deaf ears, dismissed as merely speculation and theory. These studies may serve to end those doubts once and for all.

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