April 27 (UPI) -- A new study by Johns Hopkins Medicine found the combination of exercise and vitamin D can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Researchers analyzed survey responses and health records of more than 10,000 American adults over a 20-year time period and found a synergistic link between exercise and high levels of vitamin D in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Exercise and vitamin D have long been known to reduce heart disease risk separately, but the study looked at the combination of the two and the impact on reducing the risk of heart disease.
"In our study, both failure to meet the recommended physical activity levels and having vitamin D deficiency were very common," Dr. Erin Michos, associate director of preventive cardiology and associate professor of medicine at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at Johns Hopkins, said in a press release. "The bottom line is we need to encourage people to move more in the name of heart health."
Researchers used previous data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study of 10,342 participants from 1987 to 2013.
The participants were an average age of 54 at the beginning of the study, 57 percent were women and 21 percent were black. They were examined at study visits between 1987 and 1989 to analyze exercise levels, and again in 1990 and 1992 to measure vitamin D levels.
Researchers found that exercise levels positively corresponded to vitamin D levels showing that the more a person exercised, the higher vitamin D levels they had. The second part of the study involved evaluating participants for cardiovascular events over the remaining years of the study.
Results showed that the most active participants with the highest levels of vitamin D had the lowest risk for future cardiovascular disease over the 19 years of the study.
Researchers discovered that participants who met the recommended activity levels and had vitamin D levels above 20 nanograms per milliliter had a 23 percent less chance of having an adverse cardiovascular event than those who had poor physical activity and deficient in vitamin D.