The TV hurts the heart!

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Physical activity during work and leisure time significantly lowers the risk of heart attacks, while ownership of a car and television is linked to an increased risk, particularly in low and middle-income countries, a worldwide study has shown.

The findings come from the INTERHEART study, a case-control study of over 29,000 people from 262 centres in 52 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, North and South America.

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Claes Held, the first author of the study, who is an associate professor at Uppsala Clinical Research Center and the Department of Cardiology, at Uppsala University Hospital, Sweden, and his colleagues from Canada and the USA, compared the work and leisure exercise habits of 10,043 people who had suffered their first heart attack with 14,217 healthy people.

They asked the participants whether their work was mainly sedentary, or predominantly walking at one level, or mainly walking including walking uphill or lifting heavy objects, or heavy physical labour.

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For physical activity during their leisure time, participants could select from four possible responses: mainly sedentary (sitting activities, like sitting reading, watching TV), mild exercise (minimal effort activities, like yoga, fishing, easy walking), moderate exercise (moderate effort, like walking, cycling or light gardening at least four hours a week), and strenuous exercise (when the heart beats rapidly, like running, football or vigorous swimming).

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