London: Regular endurance training and good fitness seem to protect against serious cardiovascular (CVD) events and early mortality for people diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (Afib), say researchers.
For the findings, published in the European Heart Journal, the researchers investigated how physical activity and good fitness levels are linked to future health risks for men and women who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.
“The results show that people with atrial fibrillation who meet the authorities’ recommendations for a physical activity generally live longer than patients who exercise less. They also have almost half the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease,” said Lars Elnan Garnvik from Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway.
The minimum recommendation is to be physically active for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise each week.
“We found that both moderate and high-intensity training are associated with significantly reduced risk,” Garnvik said.
The study includes a total of 1117 people who participated in the Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT Study) between 2006 and 2008.
All had a confirmed atrial fibrillation diagnosis, and their average age was over 70. The research team used national health records to find out who died or was impacted by cardiovascular disease in the years leading up to and including 2015.
In the study, the researchers calculated the condition of atrial fibrillation patients with Cardiac Exercise Research Group’s (CERG) widely used fitness calculator.
It was found that the participants with the lowest calculated fitness levels had the highest mortality risk during the follow-up period.
“For every 3.5 point increase in fitness score, the risk of dying dropped by 12 percent over the next eight to nine years. In the case of cardiovascular-related deaths, this risk reduction was 15 percent,” Garnvik said.
The study also shows that inactive men and women with atrial fibrillation generally die earlier than inactive men and women without the condition.
“Our research team has repeatedly shown that high-intensity interval training is more effective than moderate exercise for improving fitness. This is true for both healthy individuals and people with different types of lifestyle diseases,” Garnvik noted.
“Lifestyle changes, including exercise, should be key for treating atrial fibrillation,” the researchers noted.