[Paleopsych] Science Daily: Fitness trumps cholesterol as key to heart health

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Fitness trumps cholesterol as key to heart health

(Kingston, ON) ? Being physically fit can dramatically reduce men?s
deaths from heart disease ? even when their cholesterol rates are high,
says Queen?s researcher Peter Katzmarzyk.

His new study to be published Tues. Sept. 6 by Circulation: Journal of
the American Heart Association shows that, regardless of their
cholesterol level, men can cut by half their risk of dying from
cardiovascular disease if they are physically fit.

Other Queen?s members of the team, from the School of Physical and
Health Education, are Chris Ardern and Ian Janssen. Researchers Timothy
Church and Steven Blair from the Cooper Institute Centres for Integrated
Health Research in Dallas, Texas, are also on the team.

The primary aim of the study was to analyze the effectiveness of last
year?s modifications to the guidelines from the U.S. National
Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP ATP III)
for lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol to predict death from cardiovascular

?We wanted to find out if the new guidelines could identify men at risk
for cardiovascular disease,? says Dr. Katzmarzyk. ?We confirmed that the
guidelines do accurately identify men at risk not only of disease, but
also at risk of cardiovascular death. We also discovered that fitness is
important across the board ? at every level of cholesterol.?

Results also suggest that within a given risk category, physical fitness
is associated with a greater than 50-per-cent lower risk of mortality.
In this study, physical fitness was four to five, 30-minute segments of
activity per week: equivalent to walking 130 to 138 minutes per week.

Researchers analyzed the cardiovascular risk factors and
cardio-respiratory fitness of 19,125 men ages 20 to 79, who were treated
at a preventive medicine clinic from 1979 -1995, prior to the revised
treatment guidelines.

Using the new ATP III classifications:
· 58 per cent of the men would have met the criteria for being ?at or
below LDL (bad) cholesterol goal?;
· 18 per cent would have met the criteria for ?therapeutic lifestyle
change? ? meaning diet, physical activity and weight management could
lower LDL; and
· 24 per cent would have met the criteria for ?drug consideration? for
lowering LDL.

There were 179 deaths from cardiovascular disease over more than 10
years of follow-up.

Overall, compared to men who met the acceptable LDL level under the
revised guidelines:
· Men who met the criteria for therapeutic lifestyle intervention had
twice the risk of cardiovascular disease death; and
· Men eligible for aggressive cholesterol-lowering therapy had almost
seven-times the risk.

?Lowering the threshold for consideration of cholesterol-lowering drug
therapy for those at high risk will ultimately save lives and also have
important implications for the healthcare system,? says Dr. Katzmarzyk .

The research was partly funded by the U.S. National Institutes of


Nancy Dorrance, Queen?s News & Media Services, 613.533.2869
Lorinda Peterson, Queen?s News & Media Services, 613.533.3234

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