For seniors, getting physical protects the heart

(HealthDay News) — If you’re in your early 60s, becoming more active may reduce your risk of heart disease, researchers report.

That’s especially true for women, they added.

"The 60 to 64 age range represents an important transition between work and retirement, when lifestyle behaviors tend to change. It may, therefore, be an opportunity to promote increased physical activity," said study author Ahmed Elhakeem.

"In addition, cardiovascular disease risk is higher in older adults. It’s important to understand how activity might influence risk in this age group," Elhakeem said. "We found it’s important to replace time spent sedentary with any intensity level of activity."

Elhakeem is a senior research associate in epidemiology at the University of Bristol Medical School in England.

The study, published Aug. 8 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, included more than 1,600 British people in their early 60s who wore heart rate and movement sensors for five days.

Their blood was analyzed for key signs of heart disease: inflammatory markers C-reactive protein and interleukin 6 (IL-6); blood vessel function markers tissue-plasminogen activator (t-PA) and E-Selectin (a molecule that plays an important part in inflammation); and cholesterol markers leptin and adiponectin.

"We focused on these atherosclerosis biomarkers as they are less studied and have been shown to predict risk of cardiovascular events and death," Elhakeem said in a journal news release.

The study found:

Each additional 10 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity was associated with leptin levels that were 3.7 percent lower in men and 6.6 percent lower in women.

Each additional 10 minutes of inactivity was associated with 0.6 percent higher IL-6 levels in men and 1.4 percent higher IL-6 levels in women.

Each additional 10 minutes of light intensity activity was associated with 0.8 percent lower t-PA levels in both men and women.

Overall, more time in low-intensity activity and less time inactive were associated with better IL-6 and t-PA levels, regardless of the amount of higher intensity activity.

The researchers said the findings suggest physical activity might lower heart disease risk among people in their early 60s by improving blood vessel function.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (or a combination of the two), as well as muscle-strengthening exercises two or more days a week.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on physical activity and your heart.

Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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