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Cars and TV linked to heart risk

Wednesday January 11th, 2012

Owning a car and a television is a significant risk factor for heart disease, researchers warn today.

The study of people living in 52 diverse countries shows the impact of prosperous modern lifestyles on heart health.

Researchers at Uppsala University Hospital, Sweden, used figures on 10,043 people who had suffered a heart attack and 14,217 healthy people taking part in the INTERHEART study.

Professor Claes Held and colleagues looked at the link between heart attack and lifestyle, taking into account risk factors such as age, sex, income, smoking, and alcohol. Findings are published in the European Heart Journal.

People whose work involved light or moderate physical activity had an 11 to 22 per cent lower risk of heart attack than those whose occupation was mainly sedentary. Heavy physical labour was not protective.

Mild, moderate or strenuous activity during leisure time was linked to a reduced risk of heart attack compared with being mainly sedentary. Owning both a car and a TV - indicators of a sedentary lifestyle - was linked to a 27 per cent increased risk of heart attack, compared to owning neither.

The beneficial effect of physical activity was seen across countries with varying incomes.

Professor Held said: "What this study adds is a global perspective. It shows that mild to moderate physical activity at work, and any level of physical activity during leisure time reduces the risk of heart attack, independent of other traditional risk factors in men and women of all ages, in most regions of the world."

He suggests that lower income countries encourage physical exercise as the use of labour-saving devices increases.

Natasha Stewart of the British Heart Foundation commented: "Walking to the local shop rather than driving, or playing sport rather than watching it on TV, will help to work towards long term benefits for your health."

Physical activity levels, ownership of goods promoting sedentary behaviour and risk of myocardial infarction: results of the INTERHEART study. Held, C. et al. The European Heart Journal January 11 2012 doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehr432

Tags: Europe | Fitness | Heart Health

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