Physically out of shape men who perform physically demanding work are at an increased risk of dying from a fatal heart attack, a new study suggests. According to the study, which was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, heavy work puts serious stress on the cardiovascular system of physically unfit men.
Andreas Holtermann led a team of Danish scientists which investigated the impact of physically demanding work on the cardiovascular health of men of lower socioeconomic status. Using data from the Copenhagen Male Study, they selected 5249 men aged 40 - 59 and without heart disease to study physical activity's effects on heart attack mortality risk.
Physically Unfit Men Are At Great Risk For Fatal Heart Attack
Researchers observed that 2707 of the men of lower socioeconomic class who were physically unfit and engaged in heavy labor were at great risk of suffering a fatal heart attack. Conversely, risk went down among physically fit men who participated in strenuous labor activities.
The experiment found a distinction between the health of men belonging to higher socioeconomic class compared to those of lower socioeconomic position. Namely:
- affluent men were less likely than less affluent men to participate in heavy labor (3.5% and 35% respectively),
- affluent men participated in strenuous physical activity during their free time
- less affluent men had higher BMI than affluent men
More importantly, however, it was observed that good health lowered heart attack risk. Regardless of socioeconomic class, men who engaged in strenuous exercise had healthier hearts than physically unfit men.
Physical exercise places considerable stress on the cardiovascular system. The physically unhealthy heart is less equipped to handle increased blood pressure and vascular load that intense exercise places upon it. Men exposed to regular bouts of strenuous exercise have an efficient cardiovascular system that is primed for demanding physical work, thus making them less likely to suffer a heart attack.
Exercise Is The Key To Heart Attack Prevention
Interestingly, the Danish study comes on the heels of another study which found that men without a prior history of heart disease were more likely to die from a heart attack than men with unhealthy hearts (READ my article "People With No Prior History of Heart Disease Are More Likely To Die From First Time Heart Attacks, Study"). The studies are distinct, however.
Holtermann focused on physical exercise and heart attack risk whereas Canto's study did not. Regarding the results observed in Canto's experiment, people with poor heart health might have developed some form of coping with inefficient blood flow that is caused by their poor health, but people with strong cardiovascular systems would not know how to handle sudden changes brought about by a first time heart attack.
Regarding physical fitness and heart attack risk pertaining to the Copenhagen Male Study, Holtermann concluded that "Physical fitness is a protector of or risk modifier among men exposed to high physical loads on their cardiovascular system."
When you get down to it, exercise is an effective means of heart attack prevention.
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Holtermann, A., Mortensen, O.S., Burr, H., Sogaard, K. et al. Physical Work Demands and Physical Fitness in Low Social Classes --30-Year Ischemic Heart Disease and All-Cause Mortality in The Copenhagen Male Study. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 11 - p 1221-1227 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318233865f
"Physical Labor Can Be Deadly For Men Who Are Out Of Shape" copyright © 2011 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.