Risk of Heart Failure in Older Women Can be Reduced With Exercise, Study Says

According to a story from Reuters, a recent study found that mild exercise, such as walking, can significantly reduce the risk of heart failure in older, postmenopausal women. This large scale study used data from over 137,000 postmenopausal women. The women were aged 50 to 79 and over a third of them had high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart failure.

About Heart Failure

Heart failure is by no means a rare condition or disease, and affects around 20 million people across the planet. Heart failure describes a condition in which the heart lacks the strength to pump blood sufficiently for the body’s needs. It is associated with a variety of diseases and conditions, both rare and common. Some of the rare diseases that can cause heart failure or are otherwise associated with it include sarcoidosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, and amyloidosis

About The Study

In the study, a small number of the women had other risk factors for heart failure including a smoking habit or diabetes. The women were monitored for a period of 14 years, and 2,523 women in the study eventually got heart failure. As part of the study, the women self-reported their physical activity.

Women who reported even a limited degree of physical activity during the study period saw an 11 percent decrease in their risk of heart failure. For the women who reported regular, consistent, higher intensity physical activity, their risk was decreased by 35 percent. The benefits of exercise were carried across all subtypes of heart failure as well.

For example, for a variant called reduced ejection fraction, the decrease in risk for women who got some exercise and who did the most exercise was 19 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

The other good news is that these benefits did not require the women to perform exceptionally intense or rigorous exercise; just walking, a common activity that is enjoyed by many older people, was all it took to confer substantial benefit. Walking is also a good way for older women to maintain muscle mass and muscle strength.

The study was first released in the journal JACC: Heart Failure. You can read the abstract of this study at the journal’s website here.

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