There’s an app for that: exercise prescription cuts heart attack risk

App allows you personalise exercise needed to cut risk of death from cardiac events

Confused about how much exercise to take

for a healthy heart? Norwegian researchers have come up with a useful app that allows you to personalise the amount of exercise needed to reduce your risk of death from heart attack and stroke.

Speaking at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Rome, Dr Javaid Nauman, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, said "individuals do not know how much exercise they need to prevent cardiovascular disease". This is despite ESC guidelines recommending adults do 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly.

Heart rate is the single most accurate reflection of the body’s response to activity. In a study involving almost 40,000 Norwegian men and women, who were followed for an average of 29 years, Dr Nauman and his colleagues validated an activity score called personal activity intelligence (PAI). It translates heart rate data from any physical activity (for example walking, swimming, dancing, cycling) and personal information (age, gender, resting and maximum heart rate) into one simple score.


Premature death

“The goal is to keep your PAI score above 100 over a seven-day rolling window to protect yourself from premature death related to heart disease,” said Dr Nauman.

Men with a PAI of greater than 100 had a 17 per cent reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Women with a similar score saw an even greater reduction of 23 per cent. Of note, a rolling PAI of greater than 100 reduced mortality independent of other risk factors such as smoking or being overweight.

“PAI is for everyone, young and old, fit and unfit, and it’s an easy-to-understand number,” said Dr Nauman.

Muiris Houston

Dr Muiris Houston

Dr Muiris Houston is medical journalist, health analyst and Irish Times contributor