Higher Physical Activity Linked to Lower CVD Risk in Chinese Adults

Higher levels of physical activity may be associated with a lower risk of major cardiovascular diseases in Chinese adults, according to a study published Dec. 1 in JAMA Cardiology.

Derrick A. Bennett, PhD, et al., examined 487,334 Chinese adults from June 2004 to July 2008 to assess the associations between physical activity and cardiovascular subtypes. Participants were aged 30 to 79 years and had no prior cardiovascular disease history.

Physical activity was measured by occupational activity – activity performed during paid employment; nonoccupational activity – activity performed during travel to and from work, household activities and leisure-time activities; and total physical activity – quantified as metabolic equivalent of task hours per day (MET-h/d) based on the type, frequency and duration of specific activities.

Results showed that the overall mean total physical activity was 21.5 MET-h/d, mostly from occupational activity and among men. Throughout the total physical activity studied, the association of cardiovascular disease with each 4 MET-h/d higher activity (approximately one hour of brisk walking per day) was associated with a 6 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 5 – 7 percent) lower risk of major vascular events, and a 9 percent, 5 percent, 6 percent and 12 percent lower risk of major coronary events, ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage and cardiovascular disease death, respectively.

While strength of the association was similar for occupational and nonoccupational physical activity, occupational physical activity with cardiovascular disease subtypes were significantly attenuated above 20 MET-h/d, especially for intracerebral hemorrhage.

The authors add that associations of total physical activity with major vascular events were similar among men and women and across different levels of sedentary leisure time, but weaker among individuals with high blood pressure.

In an accompanying editorial comment, Scott A. Lear, PhD, and Salim Yusuf, DPhil, FACC, note that one of the unique findings of the study is that "the lower risk that was associated with higher physical activity levels was observed with both occupational and nonoccupational activities, suggesting that any form of physical activity is beneficial." They add, "If the entire population met the World Health Organization physical activity guidelines, whether through recreational, occupational, household, or other obligatory activities, this would prevent around 1 in 12 (or approximately 3.0 million) premature deaths in adults worldwide."

Clinical Topics: Diabetes and Cardiometabolic Disease, Prevention, Exercise, Hypertension

Keywords: Metabolic Equivalent, Walking, Mortality, Premature, Confidence Intervals, Leisure Activities, Exercise, Recreation, Family Characteristics, Cerebral Hemorrhage, Cardiovascular Diseases, Hypertension, Stroke


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