Surviving a Heart Attack

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​Fit Less Likely to Die, Research Says

Heart attacks can be frightening. But those who are fit may have a built-in advantage to protect them from the deadly effects of a heart attack, according to recent research.

A study of seniors – men and women with an average age of 62 – concludes that those with higher levels of physical fitness not only reduce their risk of heart attacks and death from all causes, but they also improve their chance of survival from a first attack.

These research results are from Johns Hopkins and the Henry Ford Health System and based on medical records data gathered from more than 2,000 men and women. The results appear in the Feb. 1, 2016 edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

For the study, researchers focused on medical records of individuals who had taken a treadmill stress test before their first heart attack and used the patient's achieved metabolic equivalent score – MET, for short – as a quick, although not perfect, measure of energy consumption at rest and during physical activity. The higher the MET score, which is based on physical activity levels, the more physically fit the participants were considered to be.

Overall, their results showed an 8 percent reduction in death risk for each whole-number increase in MET score after a first heart attack. Good physical condition going into the heart attack could be a life-saver.

Staying fit can be difficult for older adults who are living alone. Assistance with meal preparation, medication management and encouragement of healthy lifestyles could help keep a senior on track to a longer life.

Contact your local Home Instead Senior Care® office. A CAREGiverSM could be just what that older adult in your life may need to stay healthy.

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