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Volume of Leisure-Time Physical Activity Not Tied to Coronary Artery Calcium

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Findings seen for men and women even at high volumes of aerobic leisure-time physical activity

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 22, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Ongoing leisure-time physical activity, even at high volumes, is not associated with coronary artery calcium (CAC) progression, a marker of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, according to a study published online May 15 in JAMA Cardiology.

Kerem Shuval, Ph.D., from the Cooper Institute in Dallas, and colleagues examined the association between high-volume leisure-time aerobic physical activity and the progression of CAC over time. The analysis included 8,771 apparently healthy adults aged 40 years and older followed for a mean 7.8 years.

The researchers found that the rate of mean CAC progression per year from baseline was 28.5 percent in men and 32.1 percent in women, independent of mean physical activity during the same time period. The difference in the rate of CAC progression per year was 0.0 percent per 500 metabolic equivalent of task minutes/week (MET-minutes/week) for men and women (men: 95 percent confidence interval [CI], −0.1 to 0.1 percent; women: 95 percent CI, −0.4 to 0.5 percent). Baseline physical activity was not associated with CAC progression to a clinically meaningful threshold of ≥100 Agatston units. The risk for a baseline physical activity value of ≥3,000 MET-minutes/week versus <1,500 MET-minutes/week to cross this threshold was 0.84 (95 percent CI, 0.66 to 1.08) in men and 1.16 (95 percent CI, 0.57 to 2.35) in women.

“These results show that exercise, even when performed at a high volume, does not appear to increase the risk for progression of CAC over time,” the authors write.

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