The cheap & cheerful way to test CVD risk.

A study of over 12,000 people with known or suspected coronary artery disease underwent treadmill exercise echocardiography, in which they were asked to walk or run, gradually increasing the intensity, and continue until exhaustion – as this video of the technique shows. The test also generated images of the heart to check its function. Unsurprisingly the death rate from cardiovascular disease was nearly three times higher in participants with poor functional capacity, compared to good functional capacity, while non-cardiovascular and non-cancer deaths were also nearly three-fold higher in those with poor compared to good functional capacity. Cancer deaths were almost double.

However, alongside providing further proof of the benefits of exercise and being fit, the study found that people don’t need to undergo exercise echocardiography to check their fitness level. If you can walk very fast up three floors of stairs without stopping, or fast up four floors without stopping, you have good functional capacity.

If you can’t, it’s a good indication that you are at higher risk and need more exercise. To keep body weight down, for positive effects on blood pressure and lipids, to reduce inflammation, and improve the body’s immune response to tumours, increase physical exercise.

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