Exercise Capacity Strongest Predictor of Mortality in Men

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Mar 13 – Results of a study reported in the March 14th issue of The New England Journal of Medicine suggest that exercise capacity is a more powerful predictor of mortality in men than "other established risk factors for cardiovascular disease."
Dr. Jonathan Myers from the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, California, and colleagues collected data on 6213 men who underwent treadmill exercise testing for clinical reasons. Among these men, 3679 had abnormal test results and/or a history of cardiovascular disease and 2534 men had normal test results and no history of cardiovascular disease.

During a mean of 6.2 years of follow-up, 1256 men died, yielding an average annual mortality of 2.6%. More deaths occurred among men who were older and men with lower maximal heart rate, lower maximal systolic and diastolic blood pressure and lower exercise capacity, the researchers report.

When Dr. Myers's team adjusted for age, they found that the strongest predictor of mortality among normal men and men with cardiovascular disease was peak exercise capacity measured in metabolic equivalents (MET). "Every 1-MET increase in exercise capacity conferred a 12% improvement in survival."

"Our findings demonstrate an association between exercise capacity and overall mortality, not necessarily a causal relation," Dr. Myers and colleagues stress. "Nevertheless, given the high prognostic value of exercise capacity relative to other markers of risk in this and other recent studies, clinicians who are reviewing exercise-test results should be encourage patients to improve their exercise capacity," they advise.

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