DALLAS, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- A high level of fitness may extend the lives of women with metabolic syndrome.
Researchers followed nearly 6,000 women who had no signs of heart disease when the study launched in 1992. Over the next nine years, those with metabolic syndrome were 57 percent more likely to die than those who didn't have the cluster of risk factors that defines metabolic syndrome.
When researchers controlled the study for women with metabolic syndrome who had higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, this elevated risk nearly disappeared.
"Fitness has a protective effect, likely because it reduces other risk factors, lowers heart rate and conditions the heart to respond to stress," said lead researcher Martha Gulati, co-director of the Center for Women's Health at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The findings were presented at the annual American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.
Metabolic syndrome is defined as having three or more of the following risk factors: a waist circumference of greater than 35 inches in women; high blood pressure; elevated triglycerides; low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or high fasting glucose levels.