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Heart Disease Risk Reduced With Low-Intensity Activity in Older Persons

Heart Disease Risk reduced with Low-Intensity Activity in Older Persons

Written by Suchitra Chari, M.S. M.Sc.
Article Reviewed by 
The Medindia Medical Review Team on August 10, 2018 at 4:10 PM
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  • Heart disease risk is reduced in older adults, who perform light to vigorous physical activity
  • Physical activity helps protect against cardiovascular risk and premature death
  • To improve overall cardiovascular health, older adults must do moderate exercise at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity 75 minutes a week (or a combination of the two) and muscle-strengthening exercises two or more days a week.

Adults in their early 60s, especially women, benefit with healthier levels of heart and vessel disease markers if they spend less time sitting and more time moving about doing light to vigorous activity, says the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA).

The study has been published in the Open Access Journal of the AHA/ASA known as the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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Heart Disease Risk reduced with Low-Intensity Activity in Older Persons

A significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and premature death from cardiovascular disease is physical inactivity. Physical activity (PA) protects people from cardiovascular disease partly due to its impact on biomarkers in the blood that help predict atherosclerosis risk.

Reasons to Conduct the Study - Whether light-intensity PA (LPA) in later life provides cardiovascular benefits compared to higher PA
  • Adults in the 60 to 64 age range go through a significant transition between work and retirement when lifestyle behaviors tend to change
  • Older adults have a higher cardiovascular disease risk.
  • Studies that examine relations between PA intensity and markers of CVD are few and have focused mostly on men and moderate-to-vigorous intensity (MVPA)
  • Most data on effects of LPA are self-reported
  • Sedentary or prolonged sitting/lying postures have also been related to an increased CVD independently of PA
  • Higher adiposity or a condition of being overweight or obese (an established CVD risk factor) could explain the association between PA and CVD markers
The author felt that, therefore, it was vital to understand how activity might influence risk in this age group.

Study - To examine how Overall PA volume and the time spent in a sedentary lifestyle at lower and higher PA intensities associated with CVD biomarkers at around the age of 60

Participants included more than 1,600 British volunteers, age 60 to 64, who wore heart rate and movement sensors for five days.

Apart from the amount of overall physical activity performed, the sensors also specifically revealed the amount of light physical activity, such as slow walking, stretching, golfing or gardening, versus moderate-to-vigorous activity, such as brisk walking, bicycling, dancing, tennis, squash, lawn mowing or vacuuming.

Blood levels for the following CVD markers were analyzed
  • Inflammatory markers C-reactive protein and interleukin 6 (IL-6)
  • Endothelial markers
  • Tissue-plasminogen activator protein (t-PA)
  • E-Selectin (a cell adhesion molecule that plays an integral part in inflammation)
  • Cholesterol markers leptin and adiponectin
"We focused on these atherosclerosis biomarkers as they are less studied and have been shown to predict risk of cardiovascular events and death," said Ahmed Elhakeem, Ph.D., study author and senior research associate in epidemiology at Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

Researchers found:
  • Levels of leptin were lower both in men and women (3.7 and 6.6 percent respectively) with every extra 10 minutes they spent in moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity.
  • Levels of the biomarker IL-6 were higher both in men and women (0.l6 and 1.4 percent respectively) with every extra 10 minutes they spent in a sedentary manner.
  • Levels of tPA were lower both in men and women at around 0.8% with every extra 10-minute they spent in light intensity activity.
  • Lesser sedentary time and more significant time spent in a low-intensity exercise were beneficially related to IL-6 and t-PA, regardless of time spent at higher intensity activity.
  • Adults with better cardiorespiratory fitness had a healthier biomarker profile, although it got negated after controlling for related differences in body fat; cardiorespiratory fitness was based on an oxygen uptake step test.
  • Total activity volume appeared related to these biomarkers independently of underlying cardiorespiratory fitness.
  • There were no notable associations with physical activity and sedentary time with the cell adhesion molecule and biomarker E‐selectin, although it was related to fitness levels.
  • Hence, physical activity might lower CVD risk by improving blood vessel function and increased sedentary time may be negatively affected by endothelial function.
The AHA, therefore, suggests a weekly minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity or alternating both, along with muscle-strengthening exercises two or more days a week for older adults to cut down on heart risk.

References :
  1. Older adults who get physical can lower their heart disease risk - (https://newsroom.heart.org/news/older-adults-who-get-physical-can-lower-their-heart-disease-risk?preview=4b892)
  2. Physical Activity, Sedentary Time, and Cardiovascular Disease Biomarkers at Age 60 to 64 Years - (https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.117.007459)

Source: Medindia

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