For adults younger than 78, risk for heart disease linked to risk for problems walking

November 20, 2017, American Geriatrics Society

Problems with balance, walking speed, and muscle strength become more common as we age, and can lead to disability. In fact, studies show that for older adults, having a slower walking speed can help predict chronic illness, hospitalization, and even death.

A team of researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm examined the factors that put at higher risk for developing physical limitations as they age. The team studied information from the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care-Kungsholmen (SNAC-K), and published their research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The researchers studied participants aged 60 or older who lived in Stockholm and who did not have at the start of the study. When the study began, participants did not have problems with walking speed, balance, or chair standing exercises. All of these measure your risk for falls.

The researchers enrolled participants from 2001 to 2004. Follow-up information was taken every six years for younger participants (60 year olds, 66 year olds, and 72 year olds). Information was taken every three years for participants aged 78 and older.

Researchers considered ' , alcohol consumption, (BMI, a ratio of weight to height), and ability to think and make decisions. Participants' blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) were tested, too. High CRP levels point to a higher risk for heart disease, which remains a serious concern for older people.

The research team learned four key facts:

  • The more risk factors people had for heart disease, the faster their decline in walking speed.
  • The link between heart disease risk factors and walking difficulties was only present in people under the age of 78.
  • Cognitive function (the ability to think and make decisions) did not play a role in the link between risk factors for disease and walking limitations.
  • Heart disease risk factors were not linked to balance problems or the ability to do the chair stand exercise.

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 concluded that reducing factors with appropriate treatments might help "younger" older adults maintain their physical function.

Explore further: Obese older adults who survive cardiac surgery may have higher risk for poor functioning

More information: Emerald G. Heiland et al, Cardiovascular Risk Burden and Future Risk of Walking Speed Limitation in Older Adults, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (2017). DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15158

Related Stories

Obese older adults who survive cardiac surgery may have higher risk for poor functioning

November 10, 2017
More than one-third of Americans are considered obese based on their Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI measures the ratio between your height and weight. A BMI of 30 or above signals obesity. As more and more of us age, we also ...

Older adults who take 5+ medications walk slower than those who take fewer medications

June 27, 2017
"Polypharmacy" is the term used when someone takes many (usually five or more) different medications. Experts suggest that, for most older adults, taking that many medications may not be medically necessary. Taking multiple ...

Walking below minimum recommended levels linked to lower mortality risk compared to inactivity

October 19, 2017
A new study concludes that walking has the potential to significantly improve the public's health. It finds regular walking, even if not meeting the minimum recommended levels, is associated with lower mortality compared ...

For older adults, keeping your heart healthy may protect against disability

October 26, 2017
A healthy heart is important to the well-being of older adults. The American Heart Association (AHA) defines "ideal cardiovascular health" based on four health behaviors (current smoking, body mass index, physical activity, ...

Study shows slow walking pace is good predictor of heart-related deaths

August 29, 2017
A team of researchers at the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, UK - a partnership between Leicester's Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University - has concluded that middle-aged people who ...

Lower weight, diabetes, and heart disease can worsen quality of life for frail older women

April 29, 2016
Researchers writing in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society recently learned that older women who are frail, and who have six or more chronic health conditions, are twice as likely to have a lower quality of life ...

Recommended for you

Study examines the rise of plaque in arteries

May 25, 2018
The accumulation of cholesterol plaques in artery walls can lead to atherosclerosis, or the hardening of arteries that contributes to heart attacks and strokes. In a new study, Yale researchers investigate how plaque cells ...

Low-dose aspirin could help pregnant women with high blood pressure avoid a dangerous condition

May 25, 2018
A daily dose of aspirin could help pregnant women in the first stage of high blood pressure avoid a condition that puts both mother and baby in danger, according to a new study.

Study shows in-home therapy effective for stroke rehabilitation

May 24, 2018
In-home rehabilitation, using a telehealth system and supervised by licensed occupational/physical therapists, is an effective means of improving arm motor status in stroke survivors, according to findings presented by University ...

Surgery involving ultrasound energy found to treat high blood pressure

May 23, 2018
An operation that targets the nerves connected to the kidney has been found to significantly reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension, according to the results of a clinical trial led in the UK by Queen Mary University ...

New guidelines mean 1 in 3 adults may need blood pressure meds

May 23, 2018
(HealthDay)—One out of every three U.S. adults has high blood pressure that should be treated with medication, under guidelines recently adopted by the two leading heart health associations.

To have or not to have... your left atrial appendage closed

May 22, 2018
Each year in the U.S., more than 300,000 people have heart surgery. To reduce risk of stroke for their patients, surgeons often will close the left atrial appendage, which is a small sac in the left side of the heart where ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.