Heart Failure In Senior Citizens Reversed With Walking Regimen
Heart failure in senior citizens, aged 60 years and older, can be reversed with a consistent walking regimen, according to a recent study.
Heart failure accounts for more than 80% of hospitalizations in seniors aged 60+. In many cases, follow up rehabilitation in skilled nursing homes, providing state of the art cardiovascular therapy, is necessary.
This research examined the effect of walking on two types of heart failure in aging seniors. The findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure.
Heart Failure: Why Seniors?
According to recent estimates, almost 5 million people in the United States have congestive heart fails. The heart is not pumping blood as well as it should.
The failure occurs in two main ways:
1. either the muscles of the heart weaken,
2. they become stiff and lose their elasticity.
Basic health heart care for seniors, as recommended by The American Heart Association (AHA), , is to avoid smoking, exercise more, and eat heart-healthy foods.
There are two types of congestive heart fails in senior citizens:
- reduced ejection fraction heart failure,
- preserved ejection fraction heart fail.
Reduced ejection fraction heart fail occurs when the heart’s left side pumps less blood into the body than normal. Normal rates are 55%. In congestive heart fails of this type, the pump rate falls to a dangerous 40% or less. In fact, this is the most prevalent form of congestive heart fail in seniors.
Heart Failure: The Importance Of Exercise
The researchers examined the link between physical activity levels as reported by 137,303 people who registered in the Women’s Health Initiative, which was a long-term study of postmenopausal women.
In addition, researchers also tested a subgroup of 35,272 women who lived with either one of the two sub-types of heart failure.
For each additional 30–45 minutes of daily physical activity, the risk of developing heart failure decreased by an overall 9 percent. Within the two categories of heart fail type mentioned above, it was 8 percent for preserved ejection fraction heart fail. And a decrease of 10 percent for reduced ejection fraction heart fail.
A most important finding of this study was that duration of exercise, not the intensity level of the exercise is the main factor in reducing the risk of heart failure in senior citizens.
This is the first study that highlights the importance of duration exercise in seniors to reduce the risk and consequences of heart fail. As heart fail in seniors has an overall poor prognosis, promoting physical exercise for them will improve their quality of life.