THURSDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults who exercise regularly, even at a moderate level, are less prone to key biological indicators of heart failure risk, a new study finds.
"We're not talking about seniors trying to run half-marathons. We're talking about the impact of much more typical and achievable behavior among older individuals, like walking five times a week for 30 minutes or more, and other kinds of similar leisure-type activities," said study lead author Dr. Christopher deFilippi, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine at Baltimore.
A simple blood test can detect levels of the indicators of risk, or "biomarkers," known as highly sensitive troponin T (cTnT) and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP).
Higher levels of either may indicate a degree of sustained heart injury that might not be recognized by outwardly visible symptoms, but which could elevate the risk for congestive heart failure, in which the heart has difficulty pumping enough blood throughout the body.
"Two years ago, we published a study that had looked at this very highly sensitive test that was able to detect small amounts of heart injury in older adults who appeared to be in a normal state of health," said deFilippi, an associate professor of medicine in the university's division of cardiology.
Along with other signs, the researchers found that detectable levels of a specific biomarker "was associated with a higher risk of dying years later from cardiovascular disease, particularly if these levels notably changed in a short period of time."
The latest study explored ways of reducing that risk through lifestyle changes.
"We found that there is a very powerful association with physical activity among older adults, so that those who are the most active are one-third as likely to have this marker for heart injury rise over the years, compared w
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