Running test can predict children’s risk of cardiovascular diseases

A study from the University of Granada has identified a new exercise-based test that can assess a child’s risk of developing a cardiovascular disease or myocardial infarction in their lifetime.

The findings, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, were coordinated by Jonatan Ruiz, a researcher in the Department of Physical Education and Sports at the university.

The test, named the shuttle run test, monitors the aerobic capacity of children and adolescents as they run 20 meters. The test examines the distance ran and the child’s speed to determine their risk of developing a heart condition. Ruiz and his team reviewed seven studies that included more than 9,000 children and adolescents aged 8 to 19 from 14 countries to conclude their findings.

Ruiz said the test could be used at schools by a physical education teacher and results could help institutions implement cardiovascular prevention programs.

"Below recommended fitness levels, we should raise a red flag which keeps us alert,” Ruiz said in a statement. "Although this proficiency test is widely used in schools and provides us with valuable health information, physicians and health professionals who assess the risk of present or future cardiovascular diseases for those ages are yet to adopt these rules.”

Study results show that the percentage of children and adolescents at risk for developing a heart condition ranged from 6 to 39 percent for boys and from 6 to 86 percent for girls.

The test is currently mostly used in schools in Spain, as well as other European countries, but the investigators hope it will become more widespread as more supporting research materializes.