Time to hit the treadmill! Six years of exercise in middle age is enough to slash risk of heart failure by a third
- Study of 11,000 adults finds increased activity cuts risk of heart failure by a third
- But same study shows 6 years without exercise increases risk of coronary issues
- Heart failure is a leading cause of hospitalisation in the over 65
Six years of exercise in middle age is enough to slash the risk of heart failure by a third.
But a lack of exercise for six years at the same stage will increase the risks, it added.
A study of more than 11,000 adults found that increasing physical activity for as little as six years in middle age cuts the risk of heart failure by a third.
The same research found that six years without physical activity in middle age was linked to an increased risk of coronary problems.
A study of more than 11,000 adults found that increasing physical activity for as little as six years in middle aged cuts the risk of heart failure by a third
Unlike a heart attack, in which heart muscle dies, heart failure is marked by a long-term inability of the heart to pump enough blood, or pump it hard enough, to bring needed oxygen to the body.
The leading cause of hospitalisations in those over 65, the disorder’s risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and a family history.
Study leader Dr Chiadi Ndumele, of John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, said: ‘In everyday terms our findings suggest that consistently participating in the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week, such as brisk walking or biking, in middle age may be enough to reduce your heart failure risk by 31 percent,’
The same research found that six years without physical activity in middle age was linked to an increased risk of coronary problems
‘Additionally, going from no exercise to recommended activity levels over six years in middle age may reduce heart failure risk by 23 percent.’
The researchers say their findings, reported in the journal Circulation, show that for middle aged people it may never be too late to reduce the risk of heart failure with moderate exercise.
Study co-author Dr Roberta Florido said: ‘The population of people with heart failure is growing because people are living longer and surviving heart attacks and other forms of heart disease.
A lack of exercise for six years at the same stage will increase the risks, it added.
‘Unlike other heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, we don’t have specifically effective drugs to prevent heart failure, so we need to identify and verify effective strategies for prevention.
Previous studies have shown that people who are more active have lower risks of heart failure than those who do less less exercise, but little was known about the impact of changes in exercise levels over time on heart failure risk.
In the study, participants were monitored annually for an average of 19 years for cardiovascular disease events such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Over the course of the study there were 1,693 hospitalisations and 57 deaths due to heart failure.
Participants also filled in a questionnaire every six years on their activity levels.
The ‘recommended’ amount is at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity or at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. One to 74 minutes per week of vigorous intensity or one to 149 minutes per week of moderate exercise per week counted as intermediate level activity. And physical activity qualified as ‘poor’ if there was no exercise at all.
After the third visit, 42 percent of participants (4,733 people) said they performed recommended levels of exercise; 23 percent (2,594 people) said they performed intermediate levels; and 35 percent (4,024 people) said they had poor levels of activity. From the first to the third visit over about six years, 24 percent of participants increased their physical activity, 22 percent decreased it and 54 percent stayed in the same category.
Those with recommended activity levels at both the first and third visits showed the highest associated heart failure risk decrease, at 31 percent compared with those with consistently poor activity levels.
Heart failure risk decreased by about 12 percent in the 2,702 participants who increased their physical activity category from poor to intermediate or recommended, or from intermediate to recommended, compared with those with consistently poor or intermediate activity ratings.
Conversely, heart failure risk increased by 18 percent in the 2,530 participants who reported decreased physical activity from visit one to visit three, compared with those with consistently recommended or intermediate activity levels.
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