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Simple fitness test could predict long-term risk for heart attack, stroke in middle-aged people
Date:5/18/2011

industrialized nations and the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S. Women younger than 50 are particularly difficult to assess for long-term cardiovascular risk.

"Nearly all women under 50 years of age are at low risk for heart disease," Dr. Berry said. "However, as women get older, their risk increases dramatically. In our study, we found that low levels of fitness were particularly helpful in identifying women at risk for heart disease over the long term."

For decades, scientists have tried to improve their ability to determine which patients are at highest cardiovascular disease risk. Blood-based and imaging techniques have been used to try to improve risk prediction, but fitness has not been examined until now, Dr. Berry said.

For both studies, researchers collected information from thousands of participants who underwent a comprehensive clinical exam and a treadmill exercise test at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas between 1970 and 2006.

In the JACC study, researchers evaluated more than 11,000 men tested before 1990 women were excluded because of the low number of participants and cardiovascular death rates and found 1,106 who died of heart attack or stroke during the study period. They measured participant fitness levels and traditional risk factors for heart disease. Within each age group, higher levels of fitness were associated with lower levels of traditional risk factors.

For the Circulation study, researchers examined more than 66,000 participants without cardiovascular disease, ages 20 to 90. They were then followed until death or the end of the study period; follow-up lasted up to 36 years. There were 1,621 cardiovascular deaths during the study. The researchers found that by adding fitness to the traditional risk factors, they significantly improved their ability to classify participants' short-term (10 years) and long-term (25 years) risk.

Researchers next will try to extend the JACC investigation
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Contact: LaKisha Ladson
lakisha.ladson@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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