Did you know that exercise protects your heart (we’re assuming yes) but that heart attacks are often triggered by exercise (may be a surprise?). A recent study investigated what exercise was done before getting a heart attack, in patients that experienced one. There were a few interesting findings:
- Heart attack risk is much higher during exercise than when you are not exercising, even for those that are very active.
- This risk, however, is variable.
- If you exercise 3-4 times per week, the risk of heart attack is twice as high when exercising, compared to not exercising.
- If you exercise 1-2 times per week, the risk of heart attack is 20 times higher when exercising, compared to not exercising.
- If you don’t exercise regularly, the risk of heart attack is 77 times higher when exercising, compared to not exercising.
- But it’s worth it – after exercising, the risk of heart attack is 4 times less than when you have not exercised.
Prevention is key. These findings are relevant for moderate to high intensity exercise (although intensity varies for each individual so check with your GP or exercise physiologist) – low intensity exercise doesn’t always convey the same benefits for your heart. Also, interestingly isometric exercises (e.g. lifting weights) demonstrated these findings more so than aerobic exercises (e.g. running).