Less sitting time may reduce heart failure risk for older women

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In a new study, researchers found even with regular physical activity, older women (ages 50-79) who spend more waking hours in sedentary behaviors, such as sitting or lying down, have an increased risk of heart failure.

The research was conducted by a team at the University at Buffalo in Buffalo.

Very few studies have been published on sedentary time and heart failure risk, and even fewer have focused on older women in whom both sedentary behavior and heart failure are quite common.

To determine if increased sedentary time raised the risk of increased heart failure in older women, researchers examined the records of almost 81,000 older women (average age of 63 years).

Women participating self-reported the amount of time spent daily, while awake, either sitting, lying down or being physically active.

Researchers divided participants by the total daily sedentary time (sitting and lying down combined): 6.5 hours or less; 6.6-9.5 hours; and more than 9.5 hours.

Total number of daily hours spent sitting for each participant was also itemized: 4.5 hours or less; 4.6-8.5 hours; and more than 8.5 hours.

None of the participants had been diagnosed with heart failure when the study began, and all were able to walk the distance of at least one block without any assistance.

During an average of 9 years of follow-up, 1,402 women were hospitalized due to heart failure.

The team found that compared with women who reported spending less than 6.5 hours per day sitting or lying down, the risk of heart failure hospitalization was:

15% higher in women reporting 6.6-9.5 hours daily spent sitting or lying down; and

42% higher in women reporting more than 9.5 hours daily spent sitting or lying down.

Compared with women who reported sitting less than 4.5 hours a day, the risk of heart failure hospitalization was:

14% higher in women who sat between 4.6 and 8.5 hours each day; and

54% higher in women who sat more than 8.5 hours a day.

These findings are consistent with other studies confirming that people with more daily sedentary time are more likely to develop chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and premature death from heart disease and other causes.

The association between sedentary time and heart failure hospitalization risk remained after accounting for known heart failure risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and previous heart attack.

An important finding was that the association between more sedentary time and a higher risk of heart failure hospitalization was found even in the subgroup of women who were the most physically active and meeting recommended activity levels.

The team says the message is simple: sit less and move more.

Doctors need to increase efforts to reduce daily sedentary time and encourage adults to frequently interrupt their sedentary time.

This does not necessarily require an extended bout of physical activity; it might simply be standing up for 5 minutes or standing and moving one’s feet in place.

One author of the study is Michael J. LaMonte, Ph.D., M.P.H.

The study is published in Circulation: Heart Failure.

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