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A sedentary lifestyle can take a huge toll on your heart. Researchers have found that lack of exercise and excessive weight are strongly associated with a type of heart failure that is very hard to treat.
Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart is unable to supply enough oxygenated blood to meet the demands of the body.
“Previous studies have consistently found an association between low levels of physical activity, high BMI (body mass index), and overall risk of heart failure, but this study shows that the association is more pronounced for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, the type of heart failure that is the most challenging to treat,” said the study’s senior author Jarett Berry, Associate Professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in the US.
Heart failure is approximately equally divided between two subtypes — heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) and heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HfrEF).
Ejection fraction refers to the percentage of the blood that exits the heart with each contraction.
Many treatments have been developed for treating heart failure with reduced ejection fraction but there are no evidence-based treatments for the other type.
The pooled analysis looked at data from 51,000 participants in three cohort studies, the Women’s Health Initiative, the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), and the Cardiovascular Health Study.
Among the 51,000 participants, there were 3,180 individuals who developed heart failure. Of these, 39 per cent were heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, 29 per cent were heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, and 32 per cent had not been classified when the data was gathered.
The incidence of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction was 19 per cent lower for individuals who exercised at recommended levels, showed the findings published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Similarly, body mass index (BMI) had an inverse relationship with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
Higher BMI levels were more strongly associated with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction than with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.