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Prevention of cardiovascular disease: why do we neglect the most potent intervention?
  1. Emmanuel Stamatakis1,2,
  2. Richard Weiler3
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Health Research Post-Doctoral Fellow, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Public Health, Senior Research Associate; National Institute for Health Research Post-Doctoral Fellow, University College London, London, UK
  3. 3Specialist Registrar in Sport and Exercise Medicine, London Deanery; General Practitioner, Hertfordshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Emmanuel Stamatakis, Senior Research Associate, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK; e.stamatakis{at}


Despite a large volume of evidence supporting its cardioprotective properties and its other numerous established health benefits, physical activity is not a serious prescription option for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, health services increasingly focus on pharmacological prevention without considering properly the long-term consequences of medication. Ethical and feasibility considerations suggest that evidence on the protective value of physical activity may need to be evaluated using criteria different from those applying to pharmacological trials. The collateral health benefits of physical activity prescription support its use as standard option in preventive health care.

  • physical activity
  • cardiovascular disease
  • prevention
  • medication

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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