Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Physical activity and coronary heart disease risk in women with multiple sclerosis

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  • The aim of the first manuscript was to examine CHD risk in women with MS by assessing the frequency of physical inactivity and the frequency of anthropometric, dietary, and metabolic CHD risk factors. Although participation in physical activity is often avoided by many women with MS, some women remain physically active despite their disability. The aim of the second manuscript was to determine whether active women with MS were at lower CHD risk than inactive women with MS by assessing the differences in abdominal fat accumulation and levels of triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), and glucose. The study sample consisted of 123 women with MS, aged 23 to 72 years (49.9±10 years). Venous blood was collected for measurement of lipids, lipoprotein-cholesterol, and glucose. Skinfold thicknesses and girth circumferences were obtained for estimation of total and abdominal body fat. Leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) during the previous week was assessed with a modified version of the Yale Physical Activity Survey. LTPA during the last 12 months was assessed with the physical activity questionnaire used in the Postmenopausal Estrogens/Progestins Intervention Trial. Eating habits were assessed by the Block Food Frequency Questionnaire. In the total sample, 27.3% bad low HDL-C, 19.8% had high TG, 8.3% had high glucose, 68.3% reported regular participation in LTPA, 52% were abdominally obese, and 69% exceeded recommendations for dietary fat intake. LTPA was significantly associated with lower waist circumferences (p=0.0001), lower TG levels (p=0.0005), lower glucose levels (p=0.002), and marginally with higher HDL-C levels (p=0.09). After adjusting for the covariates known to influence the CHD risk factors, women reporting participation in low- to moderate-intensity LTPA had significantly lower waist circumferences, TG levels, and glucose levels relative to inactive women. CHD risk in this sample of women with MS was comparable to the CHD risk in the general population of women without MS with respect to anthropometric, dietary, and metabolic CHD risk factors. Women with MS reporting participation in any intensity of LTPA, however, were at significantly lower CHD risk relative to women with MS reporting no participation in LTPA.
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