By Carolyn Crist / Reuters Health
Low fitness levels have long been linked to a higher risk of heart problems. Now researchers say that the cardiorespiratory condition of men is linked to their risk of stroke.
Researchers in Norway followed 2,014 middle-aged men for more than 20 years. Those who were unsuitable for the entire study period, or who started getting fit but were less, were twice as likely to have a stroke as those who remained fit or fit, they reported in the magazine Stroke.
"Stroke is a devastating condition that can be fatal and leaves most patients with disability or visual impairment," said lead research author Dr. ir. Erik Prestgaard from Oslo University Hospital in a telephone interview.
"Prevention is important," he added, "and patients can change their condition immediately."
The men in the study were enrolled in 1972-1975 aged 40 to 59. At the beginning and again seven years later, their cardiorespiratory condition was assessed with a bicycle test and with measurements of blood pressure and heart rate.
Researchers then followed the health of the men for about 24 years through medical records and national registers.
Based on the cardiorespiratory fitness trend of men between the initial assessments with an interval of seven years, approximately 39% of them & # 39; fit & # 39; (that is, they kept an average level of fitness everywhere). Another 39% "remained unsuitable" (started below the average and stayed there). Eleven percent "became unsuitable" (dropped from above average) and another 11% "fit" (improved from below average to above average).
In total, 199 men had strokes, with the highest risk in those who became unfit.
The average age of the first stroke was 73 in both unsuitable groups, 75 in the "remaining fit" and 77 in the "fit fit" groups, the study team noted.
Men with a higher fitness level while younger and unfit were twice as likely to have a stroke, as men who stayed fit also found study. Likewise, those who started with low fitness levels who were fit, have halved their risk of stroke compared to those who remained inadequate.
"You would expect that fitness would reduce the risk of stroke, but we were surprised by the large reduction," Prestgaard said. In further analyzes, he added, "helped every little improvement in fitness."
Future studies should confirm these findings with better cardiorespiratory fitness measurements than were available in the 1970s, the authors note.
In addition, fitness levels should be judged on the basis of gender, race and ethnicity, body composition, medication, smoking status and nutrition, said Dr. Jari Laukkanen of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, who was not involved in the study.
"Research is needed to demonstrate whether reduced stroke can be achieved by recording regular exercise and following the generally recognized recommendations for physical activity," he told Reuters Health by email.