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Physical activity: the universal panacea?


In this session Prof. S. Yusuf (Hamilton, CA) showed new data from the recently completed PURE study, where lower handgrip strength predicted a greater risk of cardiovascular mortality in a six year follow up. Inactivity costs: the study showed that the possession of household devices such as washing machines contributed to the prevalence of obesity and diabetes mellitus in low income countries, in line with earlier findings from the INTERHEART study, where people owning several TV sets and cars had an significantly increased risk of myocardial infarction.

Prof. H. Saner (Bern, CH) underlined the importance of exercise training programmes for patients after acute coronary syndromes, as risk-factor counseling without an added exercise programme has not been able to influence the prognosis for these patients. A minimal length of three months was recommended.

Prof. E. Scherder (Amsterdam. NL) raised the question of whether exercise can prevent dementia, where the answer was “no”. However, he showed highly interesting research about the effect of environmental enrichment (such as experiencing nature when walking) on neuron activity and development. However, once signs of Alzheimer-type dementia are present, no major effect of exercise can be expected, although slowing down the process could be realistic. Unfortunately, most elderly people in nursing homes may spend as much as 17 hours per day in bed, which will deteriorate their dementia! He stated that prevention must focus on promoting physical activity in the age span where the frontal cortex develops, i.e. below the age of 25 years.

Finally, Mrs B. Nordgren showed data from a Swedish study of regular exercise training for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, which appeared to be a beneficial treatment modality, and well appreciated by the patients.




Physical activity: the universal panacea?

The content of this article reflects the personal opinion of the author/s and is not necessarily the official position of the European Society of Cardiology.