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If Heart Disease Runs in Your Family, You Should Really Be Exercising

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
04/10/18  9:20 AM PST
Heart Disease

By Karen D’Souza for The Mercury News – Original title: “If heart disease runs in your family, you should really do this”

If you have lost a loved one to heart disease, you know the staggering pain of that loss. You also know the fear of having heart disease run in your family, the worry that some day you might be among the one in four Americans who dies of it.

But you can take steps to cut your risk. Exercise may drastically reduce your chances of getting heart disease even if you have a genetic predisposition to contend with, Time reports. A new British study, published Monday in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, found  high fitness levels were linked to a 49% lower risk for coronary heart disease and a 60% lower risk for atrial fibrillation. Even for those with a family history of cardiovascular trouble.

“Exercise improves many physiological functions in the body, including the efficiency of the heart, blood vessels, and circulation,” says Carol Ewing Garber, Ph.D., professor of biobehavioral sciences at Teachers College, Columbia University, noted Consumer Reports. “In addition, it improves metabolism, reduces body fat and inflammation, and improves immune function—all of which can contribute to heart disease.”

The study examined 482,702 people in England, Scotland and Wales who participated in a research project known as UK Biobank, which recruited participants between 40 and 69. Researchers followed the participants for about a decade, tracking activity and exercise through questionnaires, grip strength measurements and other tests. They found that regular exercise can help level the playing field for people with a family history of the disease.

Decades of research have already shown that exercise is good for your heart. Being fit has been linked to several cardiovascular benefits—including healthy body weight, lower blood pressure and reduced inflammation. But this is truly promising news for those who have lived in fear of their family legacy.

Read the Full Article at the Mercury News.