Heart Attack: Survival of the Fittest

Survival of the Fittest

If you are like most Americans, you have the best intentions of becoming more active and fit for better health, but you just can’t seem to get motivated. A research study from Henry Ford Health System might give you the jump start you need.

The study of nearly 70,000 hospital patients shows that people who are fit are more likely to survive their first heart attack. The findings also show that low fitness may present a risk of death following a heart attack similar to traditional risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure or diabetes.

This analysis is part of the Henry Ford Exercise Testing Project, or FIT Project, an ongoing study of nearly 70,000 adults who completed a physician-referred exercise stress test at Henry Ford Health System between 1991 and 2009. According to the study, patients with a high level of fitness during their initial stress test at a Henry Ford facility were 40 percent less likely to die within a year following their first heart attack, compared to patients with lower fitness levels. In fact, the more active patients reduced their likelihood of dying during the year after their first heart attack by 8 to 10 percent for each level of increased fitness they had reached during the stress test.

The good news for you is that by starting an exercise program now, you can improve your fitness and your chance of survival if you should experience a heart attack. While up to 50 percent of fitness may be based on genetics, physical activity is a behavior option we have that can improve fitness.

Talk to your health provider before starting any fitness program. He or she can help you create a safe plan with reachable goals.

Learn more about your risk of heart disease by taking a quick Heart Age Assessment at HenryFordAllegiance.com/HRA.


How have you been successful with increasing your activity and fitness level? Please share your tips below.

Eating one or two servings of fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids per week, like salmon or tuna, decreases your risk for heart disease and even heart attack.