Less Sedentary Lifestyle Can Protect Against Risk of Heart Failure in Older Women

New research published in the journal Circulation- Heart Failure by the American Heart Association has found that older women who spend more time lying down and sitting might have an increased risk of heart failure.

The study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health also showed that this risk could also increase chances of hospitalizations in this particular population.

The researchers in the study found that even if the women had regular physical activity but spent most of the time sitting or resting, they were still likely to suffer these grave consequences. the women under study were between the ages of 50 to 79 years old.

Michael J LaMonte, the chief author of the study and a research associate professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York explained hat these findings suggest that older women should stick to heart failure prevention guidelines given out by the AHA.

He explained further that this study is significant because, “very few studies have been published on sedentary time and heart failure risk, and even fewer have focused on older women in whom both sedentary behavior and heart failure are quite common.”

What This Study Shows

Scientists wanted to see if older women with increased sedentary lifestyle habits were more likely to have heart failure. For this purpose, they examined health records of nearly 81,000 postmenopausal women with an average age of 63 years old. Women in the study were then questioned about their daily habits regarding sleep and wakeful hours along with physical activity and level of rest they were getting each day.

The Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study participants were then divided into different categories based on their daily total sedentary time which included both lying down and sitting. These three groups each had subjects within categories of 6.5 hours or less; 6.6-9.5 hours; and more than 9.5 hours.

Individually, these women were also divided into categories based on sitting hours (4.5 hours or less; 4.6-8.5 hours; and more than 8.5 hours).

All the subjects in the study at the start had no history of heart failure and were able to walk at least one block without any help. In the 9 years after the study began, 1,402 women were hospitalized due to heart failure.

The scientists observed in the study that compared with women who reported spending less than 6.5 hours per day sitting or lying down, the risk of heart failure hospitalization was 15 percent higher in women with 6.6-9.5 hours of rest and 42 percent higher in women with more than 9.5 hours of rest.

On the other hand, women who reported sitting less than 4.5 hours a day, the risk of heart failure hospitalization was 14 percent higher in women sitting 4.6 to 8.5 hours each day and 54 percent higher in women who sat more than 8.5 hours a day.

According to LaMonte, these findings are in line with previous studies that have shown generally people with more sedentary habits are at risk of “conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and premature death from heart disease and other causes.” He further explained, “Our message is simple: sit less and move more”.

This study takes these findings one step further as it showed that the risk of increased heart failure was still present in the subgroup of women who were physical active yet sat around and laid down for more hours than other women.

One limitation of the study was however that it only focused on postmenopausal women. But what is interesting is the fact that the findings are similar to those seen in the study of multiethnic men in California.

Another limitation was that the movements reported by the subjects were not actually observed through a tracker and the findings were also most likely subject to confounding factors.

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