Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Still Need Proof?
One of the sixteen initiatives for reducing line of duty deaths (LODD) in the “Everyone Goes Home” campaign is physical fitness. What troubles me about this program is the mouthing of a platitude without any real follow up. It’s like dental hygiene: don’t have to floss every day; just those teeth that you’d like to keep. By that I mean we continue to preach about the need, but really don’t follow up with standards.
In a study conducted by Harvard University School of Public Health and published today in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, men who engaged in vigorous exercise had their risk of fatal heart attack cut by 22%.
“We studied vigorous exercise because of its stronger association with coronary heart disease,” said Andrea Chomistek, Sc.D., the lead author of the study. “While we discovered that vigorous-intensity exercise decreases a man’s risk of heart attack, we also were able to partially determine why. The benefits of exercise on a man’s levels of HDL-C, or ‘good’ cholesterol, account for approximately 38 percent of that decrease. Other important markers included vitamin D, apolipoprotein B and hemoglobin A1c.”
There were 18,225 men who participated in the study, of which 454 suffered a nonfatal heart attack or died from CHD (coronary heart disease) during the 1994-2004 data collection window. After the 10-year period, 412 men with CHD were matched to controls based upon age, smoking status and their date for providing a blood sample.
“As expected, traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors were more common among cases than controls,” said Chomistek. “Men who suffered a nonfatal heart attack or died from coronary heart disease had less ‘good’ cholesterol, more ‘bad’ cholesterol and were more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.”
The study, “Vigorous Physical Activity, Mediating Biomarkers, and Risk of Myocardial Infarction,” is published in this month’s issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, the official journal of ACSM.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks heart disease as the nation’s leading cause of death among men. Between 70 and 89 percent of all sudden cardiac events occur in men, and nearly half of men who have a heart attack before age 65 die within eight years. And of course, heart disease continues to lead the list of LODDs for firefighters.
None of this really comes as a surprise. But regrettably, until we actually start to recruit and select the most fit- people who have a real penchant towards fitness being a priority, we’ll continue to see the results of sedentary living.