Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. Want to opt out of that group?
A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests two possible strategies: exercise more and whittle down your excess weight.
Researchers analyzed data from three large studies with about 51,000 participants, and found that lack of exercise and too much extra weight are strongly associated with a type of heart failure called preserved ejection fraction (PEF), which has a particularly poor prognosis.
In the research, the incidence of PEF was 19 percent lower for individuals who exercised at recommended levels—which is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, according to the World Health Organization.
Also, higher body mass index levels were more strongly linked to PEF than to the more treatable type of heart failure.
Now, it’s not terribly surprising that exercising more and avoiding weight gain is good for your heart. But the findings are especially important because preserved ejection fraction heart failure is particularly hard to treat.
When PEF develops, the heart stiffens and resists expansion. This is different from another common type of heart failure, in which the heart doesn’t squeeze enough—a condition that is more treatable.
Plus, medications haven’t been shown to reduce mortality for PEF, and heart transplants aren’t considered an option, either. So knowing how you can protect your heart in the first place becomes extra vital.
Get moving, bring your weight down, and you can give your heart its best chance for beating as long as possible.