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Heart Attacks During Exercise Less Fatal for Middle-Aged Adults

Update Date: Apr 06, 2015 11:55 PM EDT

Playing sports reduces mortality risk in middle-aged heart patients, according to a new study.

The latest findings revealed that middle-aged athletes are at low risk of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest during exercise or physical activity. However, those who've suffered sudden cardiac arrest during exercise are significantly more likely to survive future heart attacks.

"Because there is so much media attention when someone has a sudden cardiac arrest while playing sports, we want to make sure people know that the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risk of having a cardiac arrest," researcher Dr. Sumeet S. Chugh, M.D., associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, said in a news release. "Even for middle-aged men, who are more susceptible to heart rhythm disturbances, the risk is quite low."

The latest study involved 1,247 participants between the ages of 35 and 65 living in the metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon. All participants experienced at least one episode of sudden cardiac arrest between 2002 and 2013.

 "The chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest is better if the episode occurs while exercising, probably because there are likely to be others around who can do chest compressions until paramedics arrive," said Chugh.

"What this study shows is that most middle-aged athletes don't need to worry about sudden cardiac arrest while they are working out," Chugh explained. "As our population ages, it's important to know that older people can exercise without worrying about triggering a heart rhythm disturbance."

The latest study is published in the medical journal Circulation.

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