Researchers have examined the link between physical activity and coronary artery calcification progression by observing 148 participants in the Healthy Women Study over a period of 28 years. The Healthy Women Study examined changes in the cardiovascular risk factor from premenopause to postmenopause.
Coronary artery calcification scores were collected on two follow-up visits made 12 years apart whilst physical activity data was collected regularly through self-report questionnaires and accelerometers. It was found that women with coronary artery calcification of zero on both visits reported that they spent a certain amount of time daily in accumulated moderate- to-vigorous intensity physical activity; the occurrence of such activities was much higher than those reported by women with coronary artery calcification above zero on both visits. The differences were significant even after covariate adjustment.
Coronary artery calcification is the result of calcium deposition in the coronary arteries. Calcium gradually builds up in the inner lining of the arteries and forms layers of plaque that eventually result in the development of coronary artery disease. Severe calcification can deprive the heart of oxygen and lead to a life-threatening event. Coronary artery calcification is more common among women aged over 55. Increased physical activity, in addition to a healthy diet and weight controlling, is often recommended as a measure to prevent coronary artery calcification.