People who are more physically fit may be more likely to survive their first heart attack, according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by the Henry Ford Health System and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is part of the Henry Ford Exercise Testing Project, or FIT Project, a study of nearly 70,000 adults who completed a physician referred exercise stress test at Henry Ford Health System between 1991 and 2009, explains a media release from Henry Ford Health System.

The researchers focused on 2,061 patients who suffered their first heart attack after the stress test, during follow-up. Mean time between the exercise test and the first heart attack was 6 years. Patients with a high level of fitness during their initial stress test at a Henry Ford Health System facility were 40% less likely to die within a year following their first heart attack compared to patients with lower fitness, according to the study, per the release.

Patients who were more active also reduced their likelihood of dying during the year following their first heart attack by 8% to 10% for each level of increased fitness they had reached during the stress test.

Clinton Brawner, PhD, clinical exercise physiologist and senior bioscientific clinical staff researcher at Henry Ford Health System, and one of the study’s authors, states in the release that the results from the study suggest that low fitness may represent a risk of death following a heart attack that is similar to traditional risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

“While up to 50% of fitness may be based on genetics, physical activity is the only behavior we have that can improve fitness,” Brawner says.

The study was published recently online in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Source(s): Henry Ford Health System, Newswise]