The more muscles in the legs, the less risk of a heart attack

The more muscles in the legs, the less risk of a heart attack

The more muscles, the less at risk of a heart attack. Leg muscles in particular appear to be associated with a lower risk of heart problems. So suggests a new study.

The study was presented in Prague, at the scientific congress 'Heart Failure 2023' of the European Society of Cardiology.

As we age, muscle mass declines and the risk increases. But how do we doctors explain the connection?

After a heart attack, known scientifically as a myocardial infarction, the heart can go through a process called myocardial remodeling, or cardiac remodeling, in which fibrous tissue accumulates, causing an enlargement of the heart. But new evidence suggests that exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation can alter the course of such remodeling in a way that improves heart function.

Cardiac remodeling is the main cause of the onset of heart failure after myocardial infarction. And myokines, which are peptides or chains of amino acids released by muscle fibers, may play a role.

In addition, recent studies have shown that skeletal muscles themselves also release myokines, cytokines that have various effects, such as preventing the progression of atherosclerosis, stabilizing blood pressure, and preventing the development of age-related diseases.

Researchers analyzed the strength of the quadriceps muscles – in the front of the thighs – of 932 people aged 57 to 74 who were hospitalized for a heart attack between 2007 and 2020. They found that the incidence rate of of subsequent heart failure was higher, at 22.9 per 1,000 people among patients whose quadriceps strength was lower, compared with an incidence rate of 10.2 per 1,000 people among those with high quadriceps strength .