Background: Physical activity is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, but the mechanisms are uncertain. Hemostatic and inflammatory markers have been linked with risk of cardiovascular disease. We therefore examined the relationship between physical activity and hemostatic and inflammatory variables.
Methods and results: In 1998 to 2000, 20 years after the initial screening of 7735 men 40 to 59 years old from general practices in 24 British towns, 4252 subjects (77% of available survivors, now 60 to 79 old) attended for reexamination. A fasting blood sample was available in 4088 men. All men on warfarin (n=134) and men with incomplete data on physical activity (n=144) were excluded, leaving 3810 men for analysis. Physical activity showed a significant and inverse dose-response relationship with fibrinogen, plasma and blood viscosity, platelet count, coagulation factors VIII and IX, von Willebrand factor, fibrin D-dimer, tissue plasminogen activator antigen, C-reactive protein, and white cell count, even after adjustment for possible confounders. The effects were similar in men with and without prevalent cardiovascular disease. No relationship was seen with activated partial thromboplastin time, activated protein C resistance, hematocrit, or factor VII. An examination of changes in physical activity between baseline and 20 years later showed that inactive men who took up at least light physical activity had levels of blood variables approaching those who remained at least lightly active. Those who became inactive showed levels more similar to those who remained inactive.
Conclusions: These data suggest that the benefit of physical activity on cardiovascular disease may be at least partly a result of effects on hemostasis and inflammation.