A daily walk may prevent older women from heart failure

A new research investigates the effect of a daily walk on two subtypes of heart failure in aging women. These findings are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure. Click here to read it online.

The recent estimates tell that nearly 5 million people in the USA only have congestive heart failure. Only half of them are diagnosed annually. To make it clear, a heart failure doesn’t show a situation when the heart stops functioning.

The American Heart Association (AHA) explains congestive heart failure as a condition when the heart is not pumping blood as well as it normally does. (Click here to read more about it)

There are two ways by which a congestive heart failure may occur. Firstly if the muscles of the heart get weaker or they become still, losing the elasticity either way. It can affect all age groups. But the incidence is highest in older people especially over the age of 60.

American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the older people to avoid smoking, alcohol and work on their health more. Here are more guidelines to reduce the risk.

This new study investigates the potential strategies for the prevention of heart failure. The research team from the University of Buffalo, New York investigated it. Their main topic of the question was to understand the effect of walk on both subtypes of heart failure.

  • reduced ejection fraction heart failure
  • preserved ejection fraction heart failure

What is the difference between these two?

In reduced ejection fraction heart failure, left the side of the heart’s pumps less blood into the body than it normally does. In normal ejection fraction, the rate of blood pumping out of the left ventricle into the body in one heartbeat is nearly 55 percent. But in reduced ejection heart failure, this rate drops to 40 percent or lesser than this.

On the other side, preserved ejection fraction heart failure, the rate is over 50% and it is somehow normal. But if the heart muscles are stiff or thick, the amount that is pumped out of the ventricles may be too less for the body.

This first form of the heart failure has a poor outlook. However, the second type is much common in older people. It also tends to affect women and other groups (minorities) in particular.

The link between physical activity levels in 137,303 participants (registered at Women’s Health Initiative) was studied in postmenopausal women. Among these, a subgroup of 35,272 women was selected who had either form of heart failure.

What does the study tell?

Only an addition of 30–45 minutes of daily physical activity such as walk will reduce the heart failure risk by 9% in general. This risk is decreased by 8% for preserved ejection fraction heart failure and 10% percent for reduced ejection fraction heart failure.

Usually, physical activity especially walking is correlated inversely with heart failure risk. However, the intensity of any physical activity has no prominent effect. It also suggests that it is not the intensity but only the activity what matters the most.

The finding on walk associated with reducing the risk of heart failure is helpful in the context of public health. Note that walk is the most commonly reported activity in older adults, using it rightly would protect the heart as well.

This is the first-ever study to investigate physical activity levels to lower the risk of heart failure particularly ejection fraction in older adults (particularly in women). Heart failure risk becomes much more common after a person crosses 60.

Also, the treatment is very challenging and expensive. It enhances the need for finding a prevention plan that is easy by increasing physical activity levels. Walk in particular is helpful for this reason. All this together will make a healthy impact on disease control and management in an aged community.



Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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