I have heart failure, should I keep walking?
According to recent estimates, almost five million people in the United States have heart failure. Over half a million cases are diagnosed each year.
Heart failure occurs in two main ways:
- Either the muscles of the heart weaken, or
- They become stiff and lose their elasticity
Although heart failure affects people of all ages, it is more prevalent among seniors over the age of 60. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends people at risk should:
- Avoid smoking
- Exercise more
- Eat heart-healthy foods
But more specifically what can walking do to help heart failure?
Research Finds Walking a Little More Can Prevent Heart Failure by a Whole Lot
A recent study looked into walking as a preventative measure. Researchers from the University of Buffalo in New York investigated how walking affects heart failure subtypes: reduced ejection fraction heart failure and preserved ejection fraction heart failure.
The researchers examined the link between physical activity levels as reported by 137,303 people who registered in the Women's Health Initiative, a long-term study of postmenopausal women. They then looked into a subgroup of 35,272 women who lived with either one of the two subtypes of heart failure.
They found that for each additional 30–45 minutes of daily physical activity, the risk of developing heart failure was reduced by nine percent for heart failure in general, by eight percent for preserved ejection fraction heart failure, and by 10 percent for reduced ejection fraction heart failure.
It’s About the Need, Not the Speed
While walking and physical activity correlated inversely with heart failure risk, the intensity of the physical activity did not have any effect; this suggests that the amount of activity is what matters.
These findings help to support that increasing physical activity levels are related to a lower risk of developing heart failure with reduced ejection fraction in older adults, particularly in women.
Bryan Heart: A Leader in Heart Disease Care
Together the doctors at Bryan Heart are dedicated to staying in-the-know on leading research in heart failure. For questions or to refer a patient, call 402-483-3333.