Washington: Researchers have found that a simple fitness test can predict long-term risk for heart attack, stroke in middle-aged people.
In two separate studies, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers found that how fast a middle-age person can run a mile can help predict the risk of dying of heart attack or stroke decades later for men and could be an early indicator of cardiovascular disease for women.
“Heart disease tends to cluster at older ages, but if you want to prevent it, our research suggests that the prescription for prevention needs to occur earlier – when a person is in his 40s and 50s,” said Dr. Jarett Berry, assistant professor of internal medicine and a corresponding author on both studies.
Researchers in this study found that a higher fitness level lowered the lifetime risk of heart disease even in people with other risk factors.
UT Southwestern researchers also found that the same treadmill test predicts how likely a person is to die of heart disease or stroke more accurately than assessing the risk using only typical prediction tools such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
“Nearly all women under 50 years of age are at low risk for heart disease,” said Berry.
“However, as women get older, their risk increases dramatically. In our study, we found that low levels of fitness were particularly helpful in identifying women at risk for heart disease over the long term,” added Berry.
The study has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and in Circulation.