Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term for a number of conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels.
There are four main types of cardiovascular disease.
• Coronary heart disease
• Strokes and TIAs (mini-stroke)
• Peripheral arterial disease
• Aortic disease
A study by the medical journal PLOS Medicine has looked into the effect of exercise on those with cardiovascular disease.
The study found that patients with cardiovascular disease can benefit significantly from exercise and physical activity.
Conducted in the Netherlands on 142,493 people, the personnel behind the study wanted to find out if someone’s cardiovascular health status impacted the benefit of exercise.
They found: “Moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is beneficial for reducing adverse outcomes… CVD patients demonstrated a linear association, suggesting a constant reduction of risk with higher volumes of MVPA. Therefore, individuals with CVDs should be encouraged that ‘more is better’ regarding MVPA.”
What this means is that the study found that the more someone with cardiovascular disease exercised, the better it was for their health.
Furthermore, Dr Bakker, one of the authors went on to say: “With every increase in physical activity volume leading to a further risk reduction of mortality and cardiovascular events.”
However, it wasn’t just non-leisure exercise, such as running or cycling that helped, but non-leisure exercise (exercise accrued via work) was said to have some benefits.
On the flip side, the study did mention some caveats and limitations with regard to their research.
Dr Edo Paz said: “First off, activity level is self-reported, which can be inaccurate. Another key limitation of this study is that it is an observational study and thus limited by confounding. That means that exercise may be highly correlated with another factor.”
What Dr Paz means by this, is that exercise is affected by other factors such as your weight and your diet, that can more accurately determine the probability of a cardiovascular “event” coming.
Lastly, the study admitted that whilst it had studied the impact of moderate to vigorous activity, that it had not looked at the impact of “light intensity physical activity”.
Light intensity physical activities are those which involve standing up and moving around, but not any great distance.
This includes working at your desk, ironing or walking from your bedroom to the kitchen in the morning.
Nevertheless, the study does still show that exercise can greatly benefit those with cardiovascular disease.
As mentioned, there are other factors at play, such as your diet and your overall fitness.
This includes how much you smoke as the harmful components of tobacco can damage your blood vessels and your lungs.
Whether or not you have diabetes is also a factor as high blood sugar levels can also damage your blood vessels.
Other risk factors of cardiovascular disease include your ethnicity.
In the UK at least, the condition is more common in people of south Asian, Caribbean or African descent.
Finally, whether you have a family history of cardiovascular disease will be a risk factor.
You are considered to have a family history if your mother or sister were diagnosed before they turned 65, or your father or brother were diagnosed before the age of 55.