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Fitness or Cardiac Levels?

From eNewsletter 4/17/2019

DID YOU KNOW that a new study in Annals of Internal Medicine provides the strongest evidence to date that average risk patients can safely opt for an annual, easy-to-use home stool test instead of a screening colonoscopy?

Researchers reviewed over 100,000 patients who did FIT (short for fecal immunochemical test), which identifies hidden blood in stool. FIT results were compared to the finding of a subsequent screening colonoscopy and were found to have high detection rates for colorectal cancer.

The authors suggest that FIT can save patients the hassle and potential side effects of frequent colonoscopy, not to mention the U.S. healthcare system costs. Furthermore, they purport that if annual FIT results remain negative, it could be the case that a colonoscopy for screening may never be necessary or required.


A study appeared late last year in JAMA Internal Medicine suggesting that screening for colorectal cancer once every 10 years is effective and does not put you at increased risk. To ease concerns between colonoscopies, ask for Cologuard, the most frequently cited home FIT test brand in research.


FITNESS OR CARDIAC LEVELS?

Bonnie & Steve: Among people over age 70, physical fitness was found to be a much better predictor of survival than the number of traditional cardiovascular risk factors, according to a study presented at the American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Session.


While high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking are closely linked with a person's chance of developing heart disease, these factors are so common in older people that the total number of risk factors becomes almost meaningless for predicting future health. The study suggests doctors can get a better picture of older patients' health by looking at how fit they are, rather than how many of these cardiovascular risk factors they have.


Over an 18 year period, researchers assessed fitness based on patients' performance during the exercise stress test, which required patients to exercise on a treadmill as hard as they could.

Higher fitness was associated with significantly increased rates of survival. The most fit individuals were more than twice as likely to be alive 10 years later compared with the least fit individuals.


In contrast, a patient's total number of cardiovascular risk factors was not associated with their risk of death and patients with zero risk factors had essentially the same likelihood of dying as those with three or more risk factors.


While an exercise stress test using a treadmill or stationary bicycle provides the most precise way to measure fitness, we can also get a general idea of a your fitness level simply by asking about your exercise routine. It is also a low-cost, low-risk and low-technology tool that is underutilized!


YET ANOTHER DOWNSIDE TO STRESS

Steve: As we needed another reason to be vigilant about managing our stress, this study comes along..this article is reserved for NCI Well Connect Members. You can get this article by signing up here. You can get our free eNewsletter by signing up at the top of our website.

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