Regular exercise gives greater CV benefit in adults with anxiety, depression

06 April 2022

2 minute read



Zureigat H, et al. Abstract 1007-05. Presented at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session; April 2-4, 2022; Washington, DC (hybrid meeting).

Disclosures: Zureigat does not report any relevant financial information. Berlacher is the new vice president of the scientific session of the ACC.

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WASHINGTON — For adults with anxiety or depression, regular exercise had nearly double the CV benefit compared to those without those diagnoses, researchers reported at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session.

Hadil Zureigat

“Our results are not intended to suggest that exercise is only good or has CV benefits in those who have [anxiety and/or depression]but it suggests that people with stress-related conditions tend to benefit more,” Hadil Zureigat, MD, postdoctoral fellow in clinical research at Massachusetts General Hospital, said at an ACC press conference. “It also emphasizes stress-related neural pathways to explain some of the CV benefits of exercise.”

People walking for exercise

Source: Adobe Stock

Zureigat and his colleagues analyzed the health records of 50,359 adults (mean age, 59) in the Mass General Brigham Biobank database. More than 4,000 developed a major adverse CV event, including MI, coronary revascularization or unstable angina, for a median duration of 1.8 years.

Researchers assessed rates of major adverse cardiovascular events among participants who reported engaging in physical activity for at least 500 metabolic equivalent minutes (METs) per week, which is consistent with current guideline recommendations. in physical activity, compared to those who exercised less than 500 METs. minutes per week.

According to the results, those who reported exercising more were 17% less likely to have a major adverse CV event.

Additionally, the researchers then assessed the rates of major adverse CV events and exercise in participants with a diagnosis of depression or anxiety compared to participants without these diagnoses.

“People with either diagnosis actually experienced twice the CV benefit from exercise compared to those without a diagnosis,” Zureigat said.

The CV benefits of regular exercise were significantly greater in participants with anxiety or depression, who had a 22% reduction in risk of a major adverse CV event compared to a 10% reduction in risk for those without any diagnosis, according to the results.

The results suggest that exercise improves CV health by activating parts of the brain that neutralize stress. The decrease in stress-related neural activity was “significant and dose-dependent” with higher levels of physical activity, Zureigat said.

“It is important to note how common anxiety and depression are in our patients,” said the press conference moderator. Katie Berlacher, MD, MS, CCAF, the new ACC Scientific Session Vice President, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Associate Chief of Cardiology for Education and Director of the Cardiology Fellowship Program at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. Other research has shown that patients with cardiovascular disease who also have untreated anxiety and depression get worse from a CV standpoint, and if their anxiety and depression are treated, they have better outcomes. , according to Berlacher.

A limitation of the study is that physical activity was self-reported by participants and the type of physical activity – for example, strength or high-intensity interval – is unknown.

“I find [this study] incredibly fascinating and really uplifting that this is something we can offer our patients that isn’t a pill,” Berlacher said, adding that exercise, not always but often, can be free.

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