Does walking make you stiff?

If you have a heart attack today, you’ve a better chance of walking out of hospital than ever before. And new stents and new drugs – and a better understanding of how to use them – have combined to increase your chances of still being alive 5 years after your first attack to better than four in five.

All this does presuppose you actually make it to hospital. The first few minutes of a heart attack are pretty dicey, and still the best way to have a long and healthy life is to avoid a heart attack in the first place. For example, following a heart problem, we know that stopping smoking, regular exercise and improving diet quality are associated with better survival and fewer recurrent events.

But people are notoriously reluctant to change their behaviour to decrease their chances of a first, or subsequent, heart attack.

Many smokers enjoy smoking and don’t want to quit. Many of us like a tipple occasionally – or even more than occasionally. Some of us are so knackered after a day’s work we just want to collapse on the sofa and cuddle our spouse/children/dog, and perhaps eat a bacon butty. For some, and I suspect most, of us there’d be no actual point in living to 107 if we couldn’t eat meat or smoke or dance or drink or screw.

The thing is, some lifestyle modifications are quite enjoyable. But there is as a significant association between myocardial infarction and erectile dysfunction – erectile dysfunction affects at least a third of men who suffer a heart attack, and in some populations it might be as high as 80%.

I don’t think that anybody would disagree that erectile dysfunction has a severe, negative effect on quality of life.

So maybe that’s the key to getting people (men, at least) to change unhealthy behaviour.  But it’s hard.  If there was something simple and enjoyable you could do, that would not only reduce your chances of a (repeat) heart attack but also improve your love life, you’d have to be pretty far gone indeed not to have a go at it.

Well, a recent, small study reports that perhaps there is something.  Read on



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