- Researchers gave participants in the UK an electronic device that tracked their level and frequency of exercise over the course of a week, in a large study involving nearly 95,000 people.
- The researchers then accessed the participants’ health records to see how their exercise data compared to the incidence of heart failure.
- The researchers found that people who participated in moderate or vigorous-intensity exercise had a reduced risk of heart failure.
- The study is the first to use exercise data collected by the device rather than relying on participants’ self-reported activity.
Because heart disease is the leading cause of death, researchers are constantly looking for ways to reduce the chances of dying from heart failure.
A study recently published in the journal of the American Heart Association
This cohort study is the first to use data from a device that measures physical activity levels and was followed up over a period of six years to examine participants’ health status instead of relying on participants’ self-reports.
Some heart diseases include coronary heart disease, heart failure, and heart valve disease. These can all lead to a heart attack, which can be fatal.
- High blood cholesterol can increase a person’s risk of heart failure because it causes plaque buildup in the arteries, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
- High blood pressure — hypertension can lead to heart disease, and a person is considered
Stage 1 hypertensionwhen their systolic reading is between 130-139 and their diastolic reading is between 80-90.
- Obesity and being overweight – classed as overweight or obese can also increase the risk of heart failure.
Certain hereditary factors can predispose a person to a higher risk of heart disease. For example, African-Americans and Mexican-Americans have a higher risk of heart disease.
The key to this study is to use objectively obtained data rather than relying on self-reported data by participants, which the authors say are self-biased.
Around 94,000 people at the UK Biobank participated in the study and wore an electronic device that tracked their heart rate and activity level for a week. At the time of the study, none of the participants, whose average age was 56, had a history of cardiovascular disease.
Over six years, the study researchers accessed the participants’ activity information and health records to see what percentage of them had heart failure. This study compared participants who did moderate or vigorous physical activity with those who did minimal or no physical activity.
Adults who did 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity a week they wore a tracking device had a 63% reduced risk of heart failure. Adults who did strenuous physical activity between 75-150 minutes had a 66% reduced risk of heart failure.
“There are many potential ways that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of heart failure,” said the co-authors Prof. Frederick K. Hoa lecturer in public health at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
“For example, physical activity helps prevent weight gain and associated cardiometabolic conditions, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, all of which are risk factors for heart failure,” he explains.
The authors note that the participants were from the UK Biobank, not the UK general public. They say this is important because people with the UK Biobank tend to do more physical activity.
Dr Sandra ChaparroMedical director of Advanced Heart Failure for Baptist Health’s Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, who was not involved in the study, spoke with Medical News Today and point out the limitations of the study.
“Most of the patients were white, and this study does not provide a direct link between exercise and heart failure prevention,” he said. “Nevertheless, it is a powerful database that highlights an important tool for reducing the risk of developing heart failure.”
Research findings emphasize the importance of incorporating activities into daily life. While some people may not be able to exercise as often as others, regular movement is important for heart health.
“These findings show that every physical movement is important. A 10-minute walk is better than sitting and no physical activity. And, if possible, try to walk a little faster, which increases the intensity and potential benefits of exercise,” says Prof. Ho.
Moderate-intensity activities include walking at 2.5 mph, gardening, and water aerobics.
“We must emphasize the importance of moderate exercise to prevent heart failure,” said Dr. Chaparro.
Dr. Majid Basita cardiologist at Memorial Hermann Medical Group in Houston, who was not involved in the study, also shared with MNT his recommendations for incorporating exercise into their lifestyle.
“I recommend that my patients do at least 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day most days of the week,” says Dr. Basit. “Although studies have found 600 minutes per week to be the optimal time, most patients, especially older patients, are unable to exercise to that level and will be coaxed into goals that are difficult to achieve.”
“Creating good exercise habits and eating habits early on will lead to a longer and healthier life. Studies like these are helpful for validating the benefits of a well-rounded healthy lifestyle centered around exercise and nutrition.
– Dr. Majid Basit
People who are trying to incorporate more physical activity can take small steps by walking upstairs instead of taking the elevator or parking further away while shopping. Taking small steps can eventually lead to incorporating more physical activity.