Why having a heart attack while you're doing exercise is less likely to kill than if you're a couch potato
Survival rates for exercisers 45
per cent compared with 15 per cent of those who did not
23:46 GMT, 26 August 2012
Benefit: You are three times as likely to survive a heart attack during exercise, a study shows
People who suffer a cardiac arrest during exercise are three times more likely to survive, a study has revealed.
It found almost half of victims who were exercising at the time they had a heart attack survived, compared with 15 per cent of those who were not.
The researchers said it showed the benefits of being fit far outweighed any risks.
They said it was reasonable to assume the exercising victims were generally fitter than the rest – but also pointed out that survival rates could be aided by the fact that those who collapsed during exercise generally did so in a public place, meaning they got help quicker.
The study looked at data on all cardiac arrests which took place outside hospital in the Amsterdam area from 2006 to 2009.
Altogether, 145 of the 2,517 attacks – 6 per cent of the total – happened during or within one hour of doing exercise.
The exercise was mostly cycling, playing tennis, working out at the gym and swimming, with all but seven victims aged over 35.
Survival rates for exercisers were 45 per cent compared with 15 per cent of those having a cardiac arrest that was not exercise-related.
Lead researcher Dr Arend Mosterd, of the Meander Medical Centre, Amersfoort, in the Netherlands, said: ‘Although physical activity is the best way to promote cardiovascular health, exercise can trigger an acute cardiac event leading to death.
The survival rate of those who exercised whilst suffering a heart attack was 45 per cent
‘Dramatic and often high- profile events, for example in soccer players, invariably lead to concerns and cast a shadow over the overwhelmingly positive effects of regular exercise.
‘Sport is not a big risk for cardiac arrest – it’s an uncommon thing to happen but when it does it attracts a great deal of publicity.
‘Good physical health is a factor in the good survival of victims of exercise-related cardiac arrest, but they are more likely to suffer the arrest in public, leading to bystander resuscitation, often with the use of an automated external defibrillator.
‘Taking this into account exercise contributes to a better outcome.’
He presented his findings at the European Cardiology Congress in Munich yesterday.
In March, Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch as he played against Tottenham Hotspur.
Within minutes, a consultant cardiologist in the crowd had begun to perform CPR on him before paramedics arrived.
The 24-year-old announced his retirement from football two weeks ago