In a recent study, researchers compared the level of physical fitness in 135 women from three ethnic groups to their levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP level indicates inflammation.
Elevated CRP is associated with a two- to five-fold increase in the risk of heart attack. The researchers found lower levels of CRP among the most fit Caucasian and Native-American women compared with their less-fit peers. African-American women, however, failed to show the same strong correlation.
People with elevated CRP levels should begin regular exercise with guidance from their physician, says Michael J. LaMonte, Ph.D., an author of the report and director of exercise testing and research at The Fitness Institute, division of cardiology, LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"Our data really support the current public health recommendation that a physically active and fit lifestyle is conducive to overall good health, and in particular to cardiovascular health," he says. "We are not talking about a marathon runner's level of fitness. We are talking about being active on a regular basis, and a good benchmark is to be able to walk a mile and a half in about 30 or 35 minutes."
LaMonte and his colleagues hypothesized that physical fitness might protect against high levels of CRP. They analyzed data from a subset of 44 African-American, 45 Native-American, and 46 Caucasian women who were part of the Cross-Cultural Activity Participation Study (CAPS) in the mid-1990s.
In CAPS, physical fitness was determined by testing women on a treadmill while speed and angle of elevation were increased every two minutes. The women continued on the treadmill until they reached their point of exhaustion. Each woman's treadmi
Contact: Maggie Francis
American Heart Association