Beaumont research published in AJC: Survival of the 'aerobically fittest'

2/14/2007

Research done at Beaumont Hospitals and published in today's American Journal of Cardiology reports the significance of aerobic fitness for heart attack patients. The research team concluded, following a heart attack, aerobic fitness may be more important than heart muscle function when it comes to improving a patient's long-term survival.

"We began measuring aerobic fitness and found it to be one of the most powerful predictors of long-term survival for patients recovering from a heart attack," says Jacob Dutcher, M.D., Beaumont interventional cardiology fellow and lead researcher.

Dutcher says the study evaluated patients' aerobic fitness and heart pumping capability with an exercise test done six weeks after treatment for their heart attack. These patients were followed long-term to assess predictors of long-term survival. The study demonstrated increased survival rates in patients with an aerobic fitness level adequate to perform tasks such as climbing two flights of stairs or golfing. In fact, a patient with this level of aerobic fitness is four times less likely to die than patients with a poor level of aerobic fitness.

In addition, this study demonstrated that normal heart function was a predictor of long-term survival, but was less important than aerobic fitness level.

As a result, these findings suggest that cardiac rehabilitation programs, which are designed to increase aerobic fitness, can dramatically improve long-term survival rates in patients recovering from a heart attack.