New Research Showcases Opportunities to Reduce CV Risk in the Modern World

Opportunities to reduce cardiovascular risks in today’s modern world were the focus of several studies presented Aug. 27 during ESC Congress 2016 in Rome.

One study out of Sweden suggests low socioeconomic status, as well as marital status, is associated with a higher risk of a second myocardial infarction (MI) or stroke. The study of nearly 30,000 patients with a prior MI found that the risk of a second event was 36 percent lower for those in the highest income quintile compared to the lowest. Being divorced was independently associated with a 14 percent greater risk of a second event than being married. A higher level of education was associated with a lower risk of events, but the association was not significant after adjustment for income.

“Our study shows that in the years following a first MI, men and women with low socioeconomic status have a higher risk of suffering another [MI] or stroke,” said lead author Joel Ohm, MD, from Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “This is a new finding and suggests that socioeconomic status should be included in risk assessment for secondary prevention after a [MI]. Even though health care providers are unlikely to keep track of their patients’ yearly salary, simple questions about other socioeconomic variables such as marital status and educational level could make a difference.”

In a second study, moderate physical activity was found to be associated with a greater than 50 percent reduction in cardiovascular death in adults over the age of 65. The study looked at nearly 2,500 adults aged 65 to 74 enrolled into the National FINRISK Study between 1997 and 2007. The median follow-up was 11.8 years. Of the patients followed, 197 died from cardiovascular disease and 416 had their first cardiovascular event. Study authors found that moderate and high leisure time physical activities were associated with a 31 percent and 45 percent reduced risk of an acute cardiovascular event, respectively, while moderate and high leisure time physical activities were associated with a 54 percent and 66 percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality.

A third study out of Norway presented the science behind a novel activity tracking score that uses heart rate data to personalize the amount of exercise needed to reduce cardiovascular risk. The Personal Activity Intelligence translates heart rate data from any physical activity into one simple score, with a score of zero considered inactive and a score of 100 or higher considered optimal for reducing cardiovascular risk and preventing premature death. “The health benefits of regular exercise are well established, but individuals do not know how much they need to prevent cardiovascular disease and premature death,” said lead author Javaid Nauman, MD, a researcher in the Cardiac Exercise Research Group at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

In a fourth study, a school intervention costing less than 20 cents per child in Brazil has stopped unhealthy weight gain and could be a low-cost way for other developing countries to prevent obesity beginning in childhood. More than 200 students aged five to 16 from four public schools in Brazil, were randomly assigned to an intervention group focused on lifestyle changes at school and home or a control group focused on the regular school curriculum. While there was no difference in body mass index (BMI) between groups before the intervention, the children in the control group showed a significant increase in BMI after the nine months of the study (p ≤ 0.01). BMI in the intervention group remained the same, but there was a significant increase in fruit consumption and physical activity (p < 0.05).

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