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Heart Attack More Likely to Kill Instantly in People Who Don't Exercise

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Heart attack patients are less likely to die on the spot if they have been physically active, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 28,000 people in Europe who suffered a heart attack in order to see how active or more 'couch potato' lifestyles affected their risk of death.

They found that about 18% of patients died within 28 days of their heart attack. Of those, over 62% died instantly.

Higher levels of physical activity were associated with a lower risk of death immediately and within 28 days.

Compared to inactive patients, those with high levels of leisure-time physical activity had a 45% lower risk of immediate death and a 36% lower risk of death within 28 days.

Those who had engaged in moderate levels of activity had a 33% lower risk of immediate death. At 28 days, they had a 28% lower risk of death, the study found.

Low levels of physical activity didn't make a statistically significant difference, according to findings published Feb. 12 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

"Almost 18% of patients with a heart attack died within 28 days, substantiating the severity of this condition. We found an immediate survival benefit of prior physical activity in the setting of a heart attack, a benefit which seemed preserved at 28 days," said study author Dr. Kim Wadt Hansen, from the department of cardiology at Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"Based on our analyses, even a low amount of leisure-time physical activity may in fact be beneficial against fatal heart attacks, but statistical uncertainty precludes us from drawing any firm conclusions on that point," he added in a journal news release.

Researchers said the findings provide strong support for European guidelines recommending healthy adults of all ages get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination.

"There are many ways to be physically active at little or no cost. Our study provides yet more evidence for the rewards of exercise," Hansen said.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.

More information

The American Heart Association has more on heart attack prevention.

SOURCE: European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, news release, Feb. 12, 2021

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