Ride in the Tour de France, live a little longer.


Elite French cyclists participating in the Tour de France over the past 60 years have a significantly lower rate of mortality than French men in the general population, according to the results of a new study.

In evaluating the overall mortality rates of French cyclists who rode in the prestigious event between 1947 and 2012, investigators found the cyclists had a 41% lower mortality rate than men in France and that this lower mortality rate was consistent over time, including periods of reported heavy performance-enhancing-drug use. The lower rate was significant for deaths resulting from cancer and cardiovascular causes, and while it wasn’t statistically significant for other causes of death, the mortality trends all favored the cyclists.


Presenting the results at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) 2013 Congress, senior investigator Dr Xavier Jouven (Paris Descartes University, France) said that among the cyclists who rode in the Tour de France from 1947 to 1951, a period accounting for more than 60% of the deaths in the analysis, the elite athletes lived six years longer than men in the general population.


Results consistent across the different race eras

Of the 786 French cyclists who rode in the tour since 1947, 208 have died. Of these, 59 cyclists died from cancer, mainly neoplasms of the digestive tract, lung, and prostate, a number that is 44% lower than what would be expected if the cyclists had the same mortality rate as the general male population. Similarly, deaths from cardiovascular causes were reported in 53 cyclists, a 33% lower rate than what would be expected based on estimates in the general male population.


via Ride in the Tour de France, live a little longer | theheart.org.

Severe obesity now in 5% of US kids.

Around 5% of children and adolescents in the US are severely obese and therefore at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes and premature heart disease, says the American Heart Association (AHA) in a new scientific statement, also endorsed by the Obesity Society.

While childhood obesity rates are starting to level off, severe obesity has increased, say Dr Aaron S Kelly (University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis) and colleagues in the statement, published online September 9, 2013 in Circulation.

They therefore propose that “severe obesity” among kids and teens be a newly defined class of risk and stress the grave consequences of this condition. “Accumulating evidence suggests that severe obesity in childhood is associated with an adverse cardiovascular and metabolic profile, even compared with obesity and overweight,” they note.

The definition of severe obesity in children over the age of two years is a body-mass index (BMI) that’s at least 20% higher than the 95 percentile for the child’s gender and age or an absolute BMI score of >35.

Treatment options limited, greater awareness needed

Kelly and colleagues note that treatment options for children with this level of obesity are limited, as most standard approaches to weight loss are insufficient for them.

For example, lifestyle-modification/behavior-based interventions in youth with severe obesity have demonstrated modest improvement in BMI, but participants have generally remained severely obese and often regained weight after the conclusion of the treatment programs, they observe.

And the role of medical management is minimal, because only one medication is currently approved for the treatment of obesity in adolescents.

Also, while bariatric surgery has generally been effective in reducing BMI and improving cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors, reports of long-term outcomes are few, many youths with severe obesity do not qualify for surgery, and access is limited by lack of insurance coverage.

Hence, the AHA is calling for greater awareness of this condition as a chronic disease requiring ongoing care and management. And future research aimed at closing the gap between lifestyle, medication, and surgery is vital, the authors add.


via Severe obesity, in 5% of US kids, should be new risk class | theheart.org.

Happy hearts: Positivity plus exercise linked to lower CVD mortality.

The association between a positive emotional state of mind and lower mortality in patients with ischemic heart disease is mediated by exercise, according to the results of a new study.

Patients with higher levels of positive affect, which reflects a pleasurable response to the environment and typically includes feelings of happiness, joy, excitement, contentment and enthusiasm, had a 42% lower risk of all-cause mortality at five years and were 50% more likely to participate in an exercise program than those with lower levels of positive affect.

Writing in the September 10, 2013 online issue of Circulation, the researchers sought to determine if positive affect predicted time to first cardiac-related hospitalization and all-cause mortality, and whether exercise mediated this relationship.

Ischemic heart disease patients with higher levels of positive affect had a significant 42% lower risk of all-cause mortality at five years. In addition, these happier patients were also 48% more likely to exercise. In a risk model that adjusted for positive affect, patients who exercised were less likely to die during the five-year follow-up. The mortality benefit among those with positive affect is mediated by exercise.

So be happy and exercise for a healthy heart!

via Exercise links happiness and lower mortality in CVD | theheart.org.