How fast can you run a mile? It could tell you much about your risk of developing heart disease

If you’re middle-aged and worried about having a heart-attack, a simple jogging test could put your mind at rest.

Researchers found how fast a middle-aged man could run a mile could determine their risk of heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years.

Researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center collected information from 11,000 men who underwent a clinical exam and a treadmill exercise test at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas between 1970 and 1990.

They found that 1,106 of them died of heart attack or stroke before 2006.

 

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After analysing the data and taking other risk factors such as smoking habits into account, the team were able to predict a man’s risk of developing heart disease based on his running time.

They found a 55-year-old man who took 15 minutes to run a mile had a 30 per cent lifetime risk of dying from heart disease.

In contrast, a 55-year-old who could run a mile in eight minutes had a lifetime risk of less than 10 per cent.

‘Heart disease tends to cluster at older ages, but if you want to prevent it, our research suggests that the prescription for prevention needs to occur earlier when a person is in his 40s and 50s,’ said co-author Dr Jarett Berry.

The researchers, reporting in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that a higher fitness level lowered the lifetime risk of heart disease even in people with other risk factors.

LIFETIME RISK OF DYING FROM HEART ATTACK OR STROKE

Men 45+ Men 55+ Men 65+

LOW FITNESSMile takes >10min12.2%19.6%12.2%HIGH FITNESSMile takes <8min3.4%4.9%5.6%

In another study published in Circulation, scientists using a second set of Cooper Clinic data found the treadmill test could also predict whether middle-aged women would go on and develop heart disease.

‘Nearly all women under 50 years of age are at low risk for heart disease,’ Dr Berry said.

‘However, as women get older, their risk increases dramatically. In our study, we found that low levels of fitness were particularly helpful in identifying women at risk for heart disease over the long term.’

   

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