The study, published in the journal of the American Geriatrics Society, stated that the link between heart disease risk factors and walking difficulties was greater in people belonging to the older age group.
‘Aging is associated with a progressive decline in numerous physiological processes, leading to an increased risk of health complications and heart diseases.’
Aging enhances the problems of balance, muscle strength and flexibility, physical strength that could also lead to numerous limitations and disabilities.
Heart disease risk factors such as smoking, living with diabetes, obesity or being physically inactive were linked to having a slower walking speed, the researchers noted.
The study, led by Emerald G. Heiland, researcher at the Karolinska University in Sweden, studied over participants aged 60 and above. The participants neither had heart disease at the start of the study nor any problems with walking speed, balance or chair standing exercises.
Researchers considered participants' physical activity levels, alcohol consumption, body mass index and the cognitive abilities that helps to think and make decisions.
In addition, the blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) were also tested. High CRP levels point to a higher risk for heart diseases, which remains a serious concern for older people.
The results showed that the more risk factors people had for heart disease, the faster their decline in walking speed.
The researchers concluded that reducing heart disease risk factors with appropriate treatments might help "younger" older adults maintain their physical function.