At-home test measures risk of dying from heart disease or cancer

There are two things they say are 100 percent certain in life… death and taxes.

And according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in the U.S. you’re most likely to die from either heart disease or cancer.

That’s because those two diseases easily lay claim to the top two spots on their chart of the leading causes of death.

Considering the dangers they pose, wouldn’t it be nice then if you could predict your risk of ending up with one of these killers? And, wouldn’t it be even better if you could know your risks without any expensive invasive testing, requiring a doctor’s orders?

But even more importantly, wouldn’t you like to know where you stand so you can take serious steps to avoid either fate?

Well, now you can…

Measuring risk percentage by percentage

It all started with a study by researchers at University Hospital A Coruña in A Coruña, Spain.

The team of doctors and scientists had more than 12,600 people who were either known to have or suspected to have coronary artery disease perform an exercise echocardiogram using a treadmill.

Basically, this test checks to see how well your heart can handle different levels of activity.

Related: 6 odd signs of heart disease (slideshow)

The researchers measured the participants’ activity using what’s called metabolic equivalents or METs.

Put simply, the higher the MET score, the harder you’re working. So, for example, if you were sitting quietly, your MET score would be a one. On the other hand, if you were walking briskly, it would be a three and if you were jogging, you’d bump it up to a six. A MET score of a 10 would mean you were able to climb four flights of stairs in around 45-55 seconds.

The team then followed all of the participants for approximately five years and they found that for every MET a person was able to achieve during exercise, they had a:

  • Nine percent lower risk of death from heart problems
  • Nine percent lower risk of death from cancer
  • Four percent lower risk of death from all other causes

And, the reverse was true as well.

People who had what the researchers called “poor functional capacity” (basically, people who weren’t able to exercise at high levels) had an almost three times higher chance of dying from heart problems and a two times higher risk of death from cancer.

The home equivalent of an exercise echocardiogram

Before you ask, the answer is yes…

That treadmill echocardiogram is a test your doctor has to order. However, there’s an easy way to perform the same type of test in the comfort of your own home.

According to the research team, all you have to do is try to climb four flights of stairs in less than a minute, without having to stop to catch your breath.

If you can do it, your exercise capacity is great and you’re at lower risk of both cancer and heart problems.

If you can’t, you would fall into that poor functional capacity category.

And, if so, the lead author of the study says, it’s not too late, it’s simply time to get more exercise!

The recommendation from cardiologist Dr. Andrew Freeman is to spend 30 minutes every day, breathless. This means that you need to warm up, exercise to the point where you feel challenged — or breathless — and stay that way as long as possible without passing out. If you need to break, do so, then crank it up again.

Like an apple a day, this daily dose of exercise could just keep the doctor, heart disease, and cancer away.

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  1. Leading Causes of Death — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. Can you do this stair test? It may predict your risk of dying of heart disease, cancer — MSN


Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.