New recommendations say exercise is important — even for those with heart disease.
People with heart disease are often wary about performing exercise because they are not whether it is safe. New recommendations from Europe aim to make it clear how to exercise safely with heart disease or heart disease risk.
In August, the first recommendations on sports and physical activity for people with heart disease were published by the European Society of Cardiology.
Published in the European Heart Journal, the guidelines cover the types of exercise and sports people with heart disease can safely perform. In addition, it covers how to safely exercise for people with conditions that raise the risk of heart disease, such as diabetes and obesity.
“The chance of exercise triggering a cardiac arrest or heart attack is extremely low,” said Professor Sanjay Sharma, Chairperson of the guidelines Task Force and professor of sports cardiology and inherited cardiac diseases, St. George’s, University of London, UK.
“People who are completely inactive and those with advanced heart disease should consult their doctor before taking up sports.”
The guidelines cover advice for both leisure exercise and competitive sports. Along with those, it also covers advice for pregnancy as well as people exercising in special settings such as high altitudes.
In general, however, the guidelines recommend:
- People with heart disease should do some exercise most days. The recommended total is at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity. This is the standard recommendation for healthy adults as well.
- For people at risk of heart disease — for example people with high blood pressure or diabetes — the recommendation is strength training three times a week. In addition, they should add moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise.
- People who have coronary artery disease in particular, the most common heart disease, should consult a doctor before taking up exercise. However, in general, they should also be able to participate in sport. In addition, people with pacemakers should not be discouraged from sport.
“With rising levels of obesity and sedentary lifestyles, promoting physical activity is more crucial now than ever before,” said Professor Antonio Pelliccia, lead author and Chairperson of the guidelines Task Force and chief of cardiology, Institute of Sports Medicine and Science, Italy.
“Regular exercise not only prevents heart disease, but also reduces premature death in people with established heart disease.”
The full recommendations of the European Society of Cardiology, have been published in the European Heart Journal.
Pelliccia, A. et al. (2020.) ‘2020 ESC Guidelines on sports cardiology and exercise in patients with cardiovascular disease: The Task Force on sports cardiology and exercise in patients with cardiovascular disease of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).’
European Heart Journal, ehaa605, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa605
Published: 29 August 2020