Tag: heart disease

A Younger Heart for Seniors with Exercise

While it has long been known that exercise is critical for sustained heart health, recent research indicates that lifelong exercise habits may help maintain strength and longevity into old age. A study at the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie, spearheaded by exercise physiologist Scott Trappe, investigated a new population of ‘lifelong exercisers’ in an effort to prove that exercising regularly for many decades can essentially halt the aging process–and maintain the muscle, heart, and lung fitness of those at least three decades younger.

An article published in NPR cited Trappe’s initial interest in exploring effects subsequent to “the running and aerobic boom of the 1970s,” and the fact that large numbers of septuagenarians have continued regular exercise for the past five decades: “We were interested in basically two questions: One, what was their cardiovascular health? And two, what was their skeletal muscle health?”

Trappe’s findings confirmed that people who engage in regular exercise each year have better overall health than those who do not; the men and women—in their 70s—had similar cardiovascular health to people in their 40s. Trappe states that the ‘take-home message’ is the importance of exercise.

The study divided healthy participants into three groups: a lifelong exercise group of primarily 75-year-olds; a group of participants that were, on average, also 75 but did not engage in a ‘structured exercise regimen;’ and individuals termed ‘young exercisers’ that exercised with the same regularity and frequency as the lifelong exercisers. The participants were evaluated and assessed at Ball State University’s Human Performance Laboratory, and while the study was small, researchers analyzed a series of markers related to cardiovascular health: including cycling on an indoor bike to gauge VO2 max (maximal oxygen uptake: “the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen one can utilize during vigorous exercise, and an indicator of aerobic endurance”), a cycling test with a breathing mouthpiece to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, and samples taken via biopsy to measure aerobic profiles–which were then examined in a lab.

The findings, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, confirm that lifelong exercise yields a significant benefit for not only cardiovascular wellbeing, but also muscular health. Trappe states that “lifelong exercisers had a cardiovascular system that looked 30 years younger,” even more significant because the average adult loses the ability to process oxygen by a factor of approximately 10 percent per decade after age 30. “It’s kind of a slow decay over time…but people can get out of breath more easily and may have difficulty pushing themselves physically.” Moreover, the age-related reduction in VO2 max has a direct correlation with an increased risk of chronic diseases & disorders: mitigated and lessened by a strong lung and heart system. The findings surrounding muscle health are additionally noteworthy, as data showed that the 75-year-old muscles were comparable to the muscles of the 25-year-old participants.

While federally published guidelines recommend “two hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise per week,” 77 percent of Americans do not exercise sufficiently. Dr. Clyde Yancy, CMHC Chairperson, chief of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and spokesperson for the American Heart Association, states that the findings

Dr. Clyde Yancy, spokesperson for the American Heart Association and chief of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says the findings show that “a lifelong investment in health and fitness appears to be associated with a really sustainable benefit out until the outer limits of life.”


The Risk of Heart Disease with Painkillers

A large-scale study conducted in 2017 originally indicated that common painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen are considered risky for people who have had heart attacks; additional research has demonstrated that the risk can begin within the first week of usage.

The initial study involved NSAIDs: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen—generically known under its brand names Advil and/or Motrin. Researchers at McGill University pooled extensive studies and clinical research on NSAIDs and heart attacks, using a data pool of over 446,000 people who used the drugs, including 385,000 participants who did not have heart attacks.

The report, published in the British Medical Journal, stated that current use of a NSAID is “associated with a significantly increased risk of acute myocardial infarction,” the medical terminology for a heart attack. Moreover, the risk began within a week of usage. The data demonstrated that those who used NSAIDs were more likely to have a repeat heart attack, or die within the next 5 years. In the first year post-heart attack, 20 percent of NSAID users died, compared to approximately 12 percent of non-users. The death rate of NSAID users remained about double than that of non-users in the next few years.

A number of studies have consistently revealed similar patterns concerning NSAIDs and heart disease, coupled with biological reasons that NSAIDs could be risky for people with heart disease. Evidence suggests that the drugs may impact and affect blood clotting, blood vessel function, and blood pressure. Because NSAIDs are available over the counter, many patients and consumers believe that there is no inherent danger involved.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already added ‘black box warnings’ to NSAIDs, warning people with higher risks for heart disease and blood pressure to avoid using them without the recommendation of a physician. Dr. Gordan Tomaselli, chief of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University, advises: “if you’ve ever had a heart attack, you should use NSAIDs with caution.”

More recent research has indicated that for patients with osteoarthritis, NSAIDs increase the risk for cardiovascular disease to more than twice the rate of the general population. “There’s no cure for people with osteoarthritis, and you have to treat the pain. But when you treat it with NSAIDs, you increase cardiovascular risk,” said Aslam Anis, PhD, from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.