Posted on Feb 19, 2020, 7 p.m.
It is well known that smoking can raise the risk for developing cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other conditions. Now a recent study is suggesting that all of those hours of inactivity and being sedentary is just as much of a risk factor for heart disease as smoking is.
According to the letter published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology on Dec,12, 2019 entitled: “Update on cardiovascular prevention in clinical practice: A position paper of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology of the European Society of Cardiology” exercise/level of activity should be measured as a vital sign just as other risk factors would be in the doctor’s office.
The paper indicates that the risk for cardiovascular disease becomes higher with inactivity, and the more risk factors for heart disease that can be addressed, the more the risk for developing heart disease decreases.
Similarly physical inactivity was found to rank high along with smoking, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease by the New York State Department of Health. A study published in the Lancet estimates that as many as 5.3 million deaths can be attributed annually to inactivity and smoking is estimated to cause around 5 million deaths annually. W.H.O ranked physical inactivity as the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality in 2016, and listed it as an urgent public health priority.
"Physical inactivity has a large impact on the health of the world. In fact, its impact is comparable to that of cigarette smoking," says researcher I-Min Lee, ScD, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health.
According to the CDC only 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 high school students in America meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity; 31 million Americans aged 50+ get no physical activity; and low levels are associated with an estimated $177 billion in healthcare costs annually. Maintaining low levels of physical activity can contribute to heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain kinds of cancers. Benefits of physical activity include but are not limited to improved sleep, improved bone and musculoskeletal health, improved cognition, increased ability to perform day to day activities, and reduced risk of dementia.
Smoking is responsible for over 480,000 deaths annually in American alone, including over 41,000 resulting from exposure to secondhand smoke. This translates to about 1 in 5 deaths annually or 1,300 daily, and on average smokers die 10 years earlier than those who don’t according to the CDC.
Materials provided by:
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.