Stable coronary artery disease—defined as an established pat- tern of angina pectoris, a history of myocardial infarction, or the presence of plaque documented by catheterization—affects 17 million Americans (American Family Physician, 2011; 83 , 819–26). According to new research, exercise can significantly improve survival rates among CAD patients.
The study was presented at the 2013 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, in Dallas, and contained
data from more than 9,800 adults diagnosed with CAD.
The researchers, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, aimed to determine a link between physical fitness and death risk over an average of 11 years.
“We measured exercise capacity, expressed as metabolic equivalents, or METS, from the patients’ stress test results. We found that each 1-MET increase in a person’s exercise capacity was associated with a 13% reduction in risk of death, regardless of whether they had previously had a procedure to open a blocked artery,” said co-investigator John W. McEvoy, MB, in a press release.
The individuals who were considered “most fit” had a 75% decreased risk of dying by any cause compared with the least fit individuals, the authors added.
“Our results suggest that increasing physical fitness through cardiac rehabilitation programs and exercise may be an effective supplement to medications for preventing com- plications associated with coronary artery disease,” concluded the authors. “We hope that as a result of this study, more physicians will consider prescribing physical activity as a front- line therapy to improve survival and quality of life for their patients who are able to safely exercise.”