Early Life Physical Fitness Correlates with Lesser Degrees of Atherosclerosis in Later Life

Lifestyle choices related to physical fitness have an impact on many aspects of degenerative aging. As noted here, the pace at which atherosclerosis develops is one of these aspects. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty deposits in blood vessel wall tissue. Those deposits grow into atheromas that ultimately rupture to produce stroke and heart attack. It is the largest single cause of human mortality. Atherosclerosis is a dysfunction of cholesterol transport and the innate immune cells known as macrophages that are responsible for clearing excess cholesterol from blood vessel walls. Over a full lifetime of exposure, lifestyle choice that affect level of inflammation, immune function, and amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream can adjust the risk of later atherosclerosis. Choosing to maintain physical fitness is influential when maintained over decades.

It is well-known that being physically unfit at a young age is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease much later in life. In the study, the researchers linked information from the Swedish Military Conscription Register to SCAPIS (the Swedish Cardiopulmonary Bioimage Study), a large population study on heart and lung health in individuals aged 50 to 64 years. For almost 9,000 men who participated in SCAPIS, data on them at conscription at age 18 from 1972 to 1987 were also available. One of the strengths of the study is that it is based on the general population and that the men have been followed for a long time, an average of 38 years.

The researchers examined the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle, using coronary CT angiography, CCTA. The study is the first to use this state-of-the-art technology to examine plaques in the coronary arteries in relation to physical fitness at a young age. In addition, the researchers studied two different types of plaques in the coronary arteries. Plaques with calcium deposits are easy to measure and have long been the focus. "We see in our study that both good cardiorespiratory fitness and good muscle strength in youth are associated with a lower risk of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries almost 40 years later."

Link: https://liu.se/en/news-item/fysisk-form-i-tonaren-och-mindre-aderforfettning

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