Exercise: Older Adults With Higher Muscle Mass Reduce Cardiovascular Disease By Over 80% (Study)

From a Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health online release:

Jounal of Epidemiology &amp; Community Health January 2020The 10 year CVD (cardiovascular disease) incidence increased significantly across the baseline SMI (skeletal muscle mass index) tertiles (p<0.001). Baseline SMM (Skeletal muscle mass) showed a significant inverse association with the 10 year CVD incidence (HR 0.06, 95% CI 0.005 to 0.78), even after adjusting for various confounders. Additionally, participants in the highest SMM tertile had 81% (95% CI 0.04 to 0.85) lower risk for a CVD event as compared with those in the lowest SMM tertile.

Background Skeletal muscle mass (SMM) is inversely associated with cardiometabolic health and the ageing process. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the relation between SMM and 10 year cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidence, among CVD-free adults 45+ years old.


Methods ATTICA is a prospective, population-based study that recruited 3042 adults without pre-existing CVD from the Greek general population (Caucasians; age ≥18 years; 1514 men). The 10 year study follow-up (2011–2012) captured the fatal/non-fatal CVD incidence in 2020 participants (50% men). The working sample consisted of 1019 participants, 45+ years old (men: n=534; women: n=485). A skeletal muscle mass index (SMI) was created to reflect SMM, using appendicular skeletal muscle mass (ASM) standardised by body mass index (BMI). ASM and SMI were calculated with specific indirect population formulas.

The global population is ageing at an unprecedented speed, especially in Europe. As a concept, ageing is considered a continuous process starting from birth and is accompanied by various physiological changes and a number of comorbidities1 2 that affect health and quality of life.3 4 Skeletal muscle mass (SMM)4 alterations are among these physiological changes.

SMM tissue decline, as a part of these physiological changes, starts in middle age (or even earlier, in the 30s) and progresses in more advanced age.5 It has been shown that SMM declines with a rate of more than 3% per decade starting from the age of 30+.6 Half of the human body’s mass is actually SMM and it has an active role in numerous metabolic pathways.5 7 SMM decline is related, among others, to various disability patterns, poor mental health and increased mortality.5 7 8 In addition, well documented studies have shown that SMM alterations are related to cardiovascular health,9 10 even different muscle morphology.11 Recently, Srikanthan et al 12 reported the importance of muscle tissue in relation to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and total mortality in stable CVD patients.

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