About 5 million people in the U.S. live with a condition causing the heart to weaken over time. Exercise can reduce the risk of heart failure, but a new study from cardiologists at U-T Southwestern Medical Center suggests adults need more exercise than the recommended federal minimum for a significant reduction.
The lead author, Dr. Jarett Berry, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Clinical Sciences at UT Southwestern Medical Center, talked about the study.
Highlights from Dr. Berry’s Interview:
How exercise can prevent heart failure: “So as we exercise, it improves the function of the heart. Literature suggests as we exercise more, the heart ages better. There’s also indirect effects. Exercise lowers your risk of diabetes and hypertension, which are very well established risk factors for heart failure.”
Forms of injury to the heart leading to heart failure: The most common causes would be from heart attacks, the natural history or coronary disease, and also a common cause of heart failure in the population is the natural history of hypertension. These exposures overtime can increase the risk for a weakening of the heart muscle or an inability of the heart to pump blood effectively to the rest of the body.
Most physicians recommend light to moderate exercise 30 minutes, five times a week: “That’s true for coronary disease. For heart failure, it looks like the benefits of exercise is relatively modest with just getting off the couch. The contribution of this paper was to characterize the relationship between the dose of exercise and heart failure. That had not been shown before. Our data suggests that increasing the dose of exercise recommendations in middle age might in fact be one strategy to reduce heart failure risk. We’re not making any prescriptive recommendations here, but what we see is that 30 minutes of walking is associated with some risk. If you double or triple that or quadruple that, you actually see more benefit. It’s important when you think about exercise dose, you think about not just how much time, but also the intensity with which you’re exercising. 30 minutes of walking is beneficial. 30 minutes of jogging is better. And an hour of jogging is better still.”
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