How to Help Prevent Heart Failure

Heart failure risk may drop with regular exercise and normal BMI

(RxWiki News) Lifestyle choices may help prevent heart failure, including a type that's usually resistant to available therapies, a new study found.

Those lifestyle choices included taking a 30-minute walk five times a week and maintaining a normal body mass index (BMI).

While these are measures that have long been thought to help with heart health, this study found that they may also help prevent heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). That's a type of heart failure that's often resistant to available therapies. It's marked by a stiff heart muscle that can't effectively fill up with blood. 

"There was a distinct relationship between both physical activity and BMI and the different heart failure subtypes, which may have important clinical and public health implications,” said study author Dr. Ambarish Pandey, a cardiology fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, in a press release. “These data suggest the importance of modifying lifestyle patterns to help prevent HFpEF in the general population."

This study included more than 51,000 participants. The study authors compared the physical activity levels and BMIs of participants who had heart failure with those who didn't.

Even physical activity like walking briskly for 150 minutes per week appeared to reduce heart failure risk by 6 percent. And the benefits increased along with the level of physical activity. Participants who ran for 225 minutes per week had a 22 percent lower risk of heart failure.

Also, having a BMI that was considered to be overweight or obese was tied to an increased risk of heart failure overall, according to this study.

Talk to your doctor about how to exercise safely. And if you exercise outside, don't forget the sunscreen.

This study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care Endowment at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the American Heart Association funded this research. Three study authors reported ties to various organizations, including Johnson & Johnson and Abbott Diagnostics.