Cars, TV implicated for risk of heart attack

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
INTERHEART study finds cars, TV and lack of activity all boost risk of MI.

A global study finds televisions, cars and lack of leisure time physical activity all play a role in contributing to heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI). The study looked at heart attack risk among various countries to determine risk factors for heart attack. The findings also showed owning a car and TV raises the risk of acute MI.

Heavy physical labor at work however, was not associated with less risk of myocardial infarction (MI). Lower heart risk was associated with mild to moderate physical activity at work.

According to Claes Held, MD, PhD, of Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues, "Physical activity should be encouraged for both men and women of all ages as a preventive act against the development of cardiovascular disease.”

In the study, even mild leisure exercise of 30 minutes a week was shown to lower the chances of MI, and the finding was consisted across all countries, regardless of income level.

The INTERHEART results were extracted from questionnaires at 262 centers, including 52 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, North America, and South America.


The researchers found that owning a home, a car, television or stereo was associated with higher risk of MI. Having a TV and car was also linked to higher systolic blood pressure.

The INTERHEART study shows lack of activity – at home and at work – brought about by modern lifestyle that promotes sedentary behaviors is a risk factor for heart attack.

According to according to Emeline Van Craenenbroeck, MD, PhD, and Viviane Conraads, MD, PhD, of Antwerp University Hospital in Edegem, Belgium, “If we want to support healthy longevity, we should put a stop to the pandemic of sedentarism."

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, shows lack of activity contributes to the chances of having an acute heart attack, even after adjusting for alcohol intake, smoking, diet, age, education, country, income, hypertension, diabetes and waist-to-hip ratio. The finding highlights the importance of physical activity – even mild activity, for preventing acute MI.

European Heart Journal
Held C, et al "Physical activity levels, ownership of goods promoting sedentary behavior and risk of myocardial infarction: Results of the INTERHEART study" Eur Heart J 2012; DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehr432.

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