A new study released in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) journal Circulation: Heart Failure, revealed that the risk of heart failure in men increases when they spend more hours sitting even when no longer at work. According to Dr. Deborah Rohm Young, a senior researcher at Kaiser Permanente, Department of Research and Evaluation in Pasadena, California and her colleagues that this is the first time a large study has correlated the risk of heart failures with time spent sitting down.
The study analyzed the data gathered on a racially diverse group of 84,170 men who took part in the California Men’s Health Study. The men, whose ages range between 45 to 69 years old, answered the questionnaires given to them. According to the researchers, when these men participated in the study, they did not have heart failures. Using the electronic health records of the participants and after eight years of study, the researchers finally completed the data gathering and data analysis. It revealed that 3,473 of the participants were now diagnosed with heart failures. Aside from this finding, the study also discovered that:
Men who have the lowest levels of physical activity were at a 52 percent more chance to develop heart failures than with those men who registered the highest levels of physical activity. Men who were still chairbound and inactive for five hours or more outside of work have a 34 percent more chance to develop heart failures. This is regardless of how much time and effort they spent for exercising. And men who exercised the least and spent their time outside of work still sitting down, doubles the risk of heart failure when compared to men who exercised the most and just sat for less than two hours per day after work.
Based on information from the AHA, for every five Americans, one will suffer from a heart failure at any given point in their lives once they cross the age of 40 years old. Heart failure or congestive heart failure (CHF) refers to the heart muscle unable to adequately pump blood to the body leading to symptoms which include: breathlessness, extreme fatigue and swollen ankles. AHA also noted, heart failure is a serious condition and affects 5.7 million Americans and roughly, 20 percent of adults will be diagnosed with this during their lifetime.
Dr. Young also added, “It affects a lot of people. Of those who have heart failure, about half will die within five years of being diagnosed. But it is associated with a reduced quality of life.”
Since the study limited itself to men, the researchers cannot make a conclusion if the results are applicable to women as well. Another factor to consider in this study is the fact that all the male respondents have a comprehensive health plan thus the results cannot also be applied to men who do not have health plans.
The other limitation of this study is with regard to the data which is limited to the time spent outside of work. Thus, the overall sedentary activity of the individual in a day is not taken into account.
According to the researchers, despite these obvious limitations, what is important is that people should be active and sit less to prevent heart failure. Dr. Young likewise reminded that adults should at the minimum do 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic exercises to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
The risk of heart failure in men increases when they spend their time outside of work still sitting down and with few physical activities. “Be more active and sit less – that’s the message here.” reminded Dr. Young.
By Roberto I. Belda