According to a new study which was published in the journal Heart, exercise may increase the risk of suffering a heart attack.
The study found that individuals who are physically active have high levels of calcium deposits in their coronary arteries.
As calcium signifies how much fat build-up exists in one’s arteries, it’s one of the strongest indicators of the risk of having a heart attack.
Researchers studied healthy adults who underwent two regular check-ups at two major South Korean health centres in Seoul and Suwon between the years 2011 and 2017. The research was carried out as part of the Samsung Health Study.
At the first check-up, people were marked as either being inactive, moderately active or physically active (The equivalent of running 6.5 km/day) which is considered intensely active.
Over an average of three years, scans were carried out to track the development of coronary artery calcification (CAC).
An overall 25,485 people aged at least 30 and with at least two CAC scores were included in the final analysis.
The study found that more physically active people tended to be older and less likely to smoke than less active individuals.
They had lower cholesterol but higher blood pressure and existing evidence of calcium deposits in their coronary arteries.
Regardless of CAC scores that were taken at the beginning of the research, the study found that the more people exercised, the more calcium they had existing in their arteries.
The fast progression of calcium deposits was associated with higher physical activity in both situations where there were no calcium deposits and where calcium deposits already existed at the start of the study.
The researchers had also suggested that exercise may lead to the narrowing of the arteries through mechanical stress and vessel wall injury along with increased blood pressure.
However, the researchers concluded that the benefits of exercise outweighed the risks and that people should take 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes to 150 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity exercise.
Dr. Gaurav Gulsin and Alastair James Moss from the Department of Cardiovascular Science at the University of Leicester stated that the study highlights the complexity of interpreting CAC scores in patients who have upped their physical activity or have started taking statins, which are associated with higher CAC scores.
They added that “clinicians should be cautious regarding the overuse of this test in otherwise healthy individuals”.
“It may be the target we need to look for is non-calcified plaque rather than calcified plaque.”
IMAGE – “Close-up of hands of a fit woman in the” (CC BY 2.0) by shixart1985/Pixabay