OBJECTIVES: The study investigated the effects of physical activity on preinfarction angina, a clinical equivalent of ischemic preconditioning (PC), in adult and elderly patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). BACKGROUND: Preinfarction angina seems to confer protection against in-hospital mortality in adult but not in elderly patients. However, it has been experimentally demonstrated that exercise training restores the protective effect of PC in the aging heart. METHODS: We retrospectively verified whether physical activity preserved the protective effect of preinfarction angina against in-hospital mortality in 557 elderly patients with AMI. Physical activity was quantified according to the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE). RESULTS: In-hospital mortality was 22.2% in elderly patients with preinfarction angina and 27.2% in those without (p = 0.20). When the PASE score was stratified in quartiles (0 to 40, 41 to 56, 57 to 90, >90), a high score was strongly associated with reduced in-hospital mortality (30.8%, 32.2%, 17.2% and 15.3%, respectively, p <0.001 for trend). Interestingly, a high level of physical activity reduced in-hospital mortality in elderly patients with preinfarction angina (35.7%, 35.4%, 12.3% and 4.23%, respectively, p <0.001 for trend) but not in those without (23.0%, 27.2%, 26.0% and 35.0%, respectively, p = 0.35 for trend). Accordingly, the protective role of preinfarction angina on in-hospital mortality was present only in elderly patients showing a high level of physical activity (adjusted odds ratio, 0.09; 95% confidence interval, 0.01 to 0.57; p <0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Physical activity and not preinfarction angina protects against in-hospital mortality in elderly patients with myocardial infarction. Nevertheless, the protective effect of preinfarction angina is preserved in elderly patients with a high level of physical activity.
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