Can you do this in 90 seconds? If not, you may have heart health problems, NEW study
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by: Sara Middleton, staff writer | December 17, 2020
(NaturalHealth365) Looking for a super simple way to assess whether your heart health is okay or not? A recent study suggests that a common daily activity – climbing stairs – could serve as a useful screening tool to better understand your cardiovascular health.
The study was conducted by a team of Spanish researchers and presented at this year’s Best of Imaging 2020, a scientific meeting of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Their results offer some helpful guidance to anyone looking to establish an effective heart healthy workout routine.
Get a stopwatch, find a staircase, and do this to access heart health, researchers say
Dr. Jesús Peteiro is a cardiologist at University Hospital A Coruña and the lead author of the study. He and his colleagues set out to find an inexpensive way to assess a person’s heart health that didn’t necessarily involve a trip to the doctor’s office. This way, the researchers argue, doctors can quickly determine which patients need more extensive cardiac work-ups – potentially saving time, money, and resources.
They decided to compare the results of the “gold standard” heart health assessment – a treadmill test – to a simple measurement: how long it takes to climb four flights of stairs (60 steps total) at a fast pace without stopping.
To conduct the study, Dr. Peteiro and colleagues took 165 patients who were referred to the clinic for a treadmill test because they had a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of coronary artery disease. First, each patient underwent the standard treadmill test.
By the way, if you’ve never done this before, you’re missing out on a doozy: you walk or run on a treadmill as the incline and speed gradually increase until you reach the point of exhaustion. Sounds like fun … right?
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Anyway, after about a 20-minute rest, the patients were then instructed to climb four flights of stairs quickly but without running.
The researchers then compared the relative energy expenditure of the treadmill test vs the stair climbing assessment for each patient using a metric known as metabolic equivalents, or METs. Prior research has found that being able to exert higher energy expenditure (specifically, 10 METs) during exercise tests is associated with a lower risk of mortality.
In this study, it was found that patients who were able to climb the stairs in less than 45 seconds achieved between 9 to 10 METs. This is roughly equivalent to a mortality rate of 1 percent or less per year (10 percent in 10 years).
Conversely, patients who took more than 90 seconds to climb four flights of stairs achieved fewer than 8 METs. According to available data, this is equivalent to a mortality rate of 2 to 4 percent per year (30 percent in 10 years).
The researchers also found that of the patients who took longer than 90 seconds to complete the stair climb, almost 60 percent demonstrated abnormal heart function during the treadmill test. Meanwhile, just under a third of patients who climbed the stairs in less than one minute had abnormal heart function as determined on the treadmill test.
“If it takes you more than one-and-a-half minutes to ascend four flights of stairs, your health is suboptimal,” Dr. Peteiro explains in the press release, adding that such results would suggest it’s “a good idea to consult a doctor.”
Of course, conventionally-trained doctors are all too quick to recommend side-effect riddled medications to address heart health issues. Fortunately, you have plenty of effective and drug-free options.
Want a healthier heart? Experts say these are the types of exercises you should include in your weekly workout routine
Stair climbing is a type of aerobic exercise proven to offer heart healthy benefits – and is free and easy to do. A 2019 research study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology even found that climbing three flights of stairs three times a day on just three days per week can increase your fitness level.
Other types of aerobic exercise known to improve heart health include brisk walking, hiking, tennis, cycling, and swimming. But don’t think your heart needs only cardio. According to Johns Hopkins, resistance training and stretching/balance work can also support heart healthy, either directly or indirectly.
Bottom line? Be sure to include all three types of exercise in your workout routine … and try taking the stairs more often.
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