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World J Cardiol. 2016 Oct 26;8(10):575-583.

Physical activity in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: Overview updated.

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Alberto J Alves, João L Viana, Research Centre in Sports Sciences, Health and Human Development, CIDESD, University Institute of Maia, 4475-690 Maia, Portugal.


Although the observed progress in the cardiovascular disease treatment, the incidence of new and recurrent coronary artery disease remains elevated and constitutes the leading cause of death in the developed countries. Three-quarters of deaths due to cardiovascular diseases could be prevented with adequate changes in lifestyle, including increased daily physical activity. New evidence confirms that there is an inverse dose-response relationship between physical activity and cardiovascular disease and mortality risk. However, participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity may not fully attenuate the independent effect of sedentary activities on increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. Physical activity also plays an important role in secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases by reducing the impact of the disease, slowing its progress and preventing recurrence. Nonetheless, most of eligible cardiovascular patients still do not benefit from secondary prevention/cardiac rehabilitation programs. The present review draws attention to the importance of physical activity in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases. It also addresses the mechanisms by which physical activity and regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health and reduce the burden of the disease.


Cardiovascular disease; Health care evaluation mechanisms; Physical activity; Primary prevention; Secondary prevention

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict-of-interest statement: Alberto J Alves and others authors declare no conflict of interest related to this publication.

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