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DURHAM, N.C., May 05, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A Duke University study suggests heart attack patients who are depressed are more than twice as likely to die of a second heart attack if they don't exercise.
Similar results were found for patients who are without social support.
The researchers at the Durham, N.C.,-based Duke University Medical Center followed 2,078 patients. They said their study was one of the largest to examine the potential role of exercise in forestalling future heart attacks in such a high-risk group of patients.
In contrast to past studies that concentrated on Caucasian males, the researchers said their trial was more representative, with 33.6 percent of the subjects being minority group members, 43.5 percent women, and 38.8 percent over the age of 65.
They found after an average two-year follow-up, 5.7 percent of those who reported regular exercise had died, compared with 12 percent of those reporting not exercising. Additionally, 6.5 percent of exercisers experienced a non-fatal heart attack, compared with 10.5 percent for non-exercisers.
"Our findings demonstrate the value of exercise for those heart attack patients who are at higher risk of future cardiac events because of their depression or social isolation," said lead researcher James Blumenthal.
The results of the study appear in the current issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International.