A recent observational study conducted by researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway and the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests increasing physical activity is more beneficial than losing weight for people with heart disease.
This research involved 3,307 people with coronary heart disease, 1,038 of whom were women, from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study who were examined in 1985, 1996, 2007, and 2014. Study participants were divided into three categories: inactive; slightly physically active, but below recommended activity levels; and physically active at or above recommended activity levels (at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity or 60 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity). During the 30-year study, 1,493 participants died, and 55 percent of the deaths were due to heart disease.
According to researchers, study participants who were physically active lived longer than those who were sedentary, and sustained physical activity was associated with substantially lower mortality risk over time. Weight gain did not increase mortality risk for study participants who were already overweight. However, the researchers caution the study results do not mean overweight heart patients should not try to lose weight.