Objective: To establish physical activity levels in relation to cardiovascular medication and to examine if physical activity is associated with benefit independently of medication among individuals with no diagnosis of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Design: Cross-sectional surveys in 1998 and 2003 with ongoing mortality follow up.
Setting: Household-based interviews in England and Scotland.
Participants: Population samples of adults aged 35 and over living in households, respondents of the Scottish Health Survey and the Health Survey for England.
Main outcome measure: Moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) levels and CVD mortality.
Results: Fifteen percent (N=3,116) of the 20,177 respondents (8,791 men); were prescribed at least one cardiovascular medication. Medicated respondents were less likely than those unmedicated to meet the physical activity recommendations (OR:0.89, 95%CI: 0.81 to 0.99, p=0.028). The mean follow up (±SD) was 6.6 (2.3) years. There were 1,509 any-cause deaths and 427 CVD deaths. Increased physical activity was associated with all-cause and CVD mortality among both unmedicated (all-cause mortality HR for those with ≥150 min/wk of MVPA compared with those who reported no MVPA): 0.58, 95%CI: 0.48 to 0.69, p<0.001) ; CVD mortality: 0.65, 0.46 to 0.91, p=0.036) and medicated respondents (all-cause death: 0.54, 0.40 to 0.72, p<0.001; CVD death: 0.46 (0.27 to 0.78, p=0.008).
Conclusions: Although physical activity protects against premature mortality among both medicated and unmedicated adults, cardiovascular medication is linked with lower uptake of health enhancing physical activity. These results highlight the importance of physical activity in the primary prevention of CVD over and above medication.
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