Favorable and unfavorable cardiovascular outcomes of physical activity
The objective of this project is to provide new and expanded knowledge of associations between long-term physical activity and risk of myocardial infarction, atrial fibrillation, hypertension, and premature death in a general population. Strong and consistent evidence of both positive and negative health effects of physical activity is crucial for promoting physical activity as part of a public health strategy, but knowledge is limited by methodological shortcomings. Although there is compelling evidence for an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and premature death, the vast majority of these studies are based on a single point-in-time assessment of physical activity. A key challenge is thus to examine these associations utilizing a study design with repeated measurements. Moreover, physical activity in endurance athletes has recently been associated with certain negative cardiac events. If athletes are at higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation and sudden death, this may also apply to those who practice vigorous leisure time physical activity in the general population. However, little is known about negative cardiac effects in the general population. Furthermore, as the majority of existing studies involve men, it is of utmost importance to examine these issues in women as well. The project design is observational and longitudinal, based on data from the Tromsø Study, a population study that involves physical examinations and self-administered questionnaire(s) on health and lifestyle, including leisure time and occupational physical activity. The participants are being followed with respect to several different endpoints. The findings should apply to a wide audience, from health authorities designing public health strategies, to health personnel and executors of 'Samhandlingsreformen', as well as the general public.