Stay Active After Your Heart Attack

Physical activity has been associated with favorable health outcomes including lower risk of chronic diseases and better quality of life. However, knowledge about the benefit of habitual physical activity after people get their first heart attack is limited. In this study, researchers followed 1,651 men who survived a heart attack and investigated the relationship between habitual physical activity, its intensity and changes in relation to risk of dying. Higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity before heart attack was associated with longer survival as compared to a lower level of physical activity. Men who maintained their high physical activity from before to after their heart attack survived longer than those who maintained a sedentary lifestyle.

Those who had a low physical activity before their heart attack but increased, and maintained a long-term increase, after the event also had a longer survival rate. Walking for at least two-and-a-half hours per week after a heart attack also had a survival benefit, independent of walking pace or other types of physical activity. Thus, patients surviving a heart attack are encouraged to be active after their heart attack, in consultation with their health care providers.