Physical Fitness Reduces Post-MI Mortality Risk

February 1, 2016 — Being physically fit may not only help to reduce the risk of heart attacks, but may also decrease risk of mortality following a first heart attack, according to a new study.

To examine the effects of exercise capacity on mortality after a first heart attack, researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of 2061 patients without a history of myocardial infarction. All participants had underwent clinical treadmill stress tests between 1991 and 2009 and had also suffered a heart attack during the follow-up period.

Fitness was categorized using peak metabolic equivalents (METs) achieved: <6, 6-9, 10-11, and 12 or more. Using multivariable logistic regression models, researchers assessed the effect of exercise on the risk of mortality at 28, 90, and 365 days after heart attack.

Overall, participants who achieved MET scores of 10 or higher had 40% less deaths after first heart attack compared with the other participants, and 33% of those with MET scores of 6 or less died within a year after first heart attack. Each whole number increase in MET score was associated with an 8% reduction in death risk.

“Higher baseline exercise was independently associated with a lower risk of early death after a first myocardial infarction,” they concluded.

Written by Michael Potts


Shaya GE, Al-Mallah MH, Hung RK, et al. High exercise capacity attenuates the risk of early mortality after a first myocardial infarction. Mayo Clinic Preceedings. 2016;90(2):129-139.