Slow walking pace good predictor of heart-related deaths, study finds
*Cocoa, olive oil associated with improved cardiovascular profile
Study suggests that middle-aged people who report that they are slow walkers could be at higher risk of heart disease compared to the general population.A team of researchers at the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, United Kingdom (UK) – a partnership between Leicester’s Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University – has concluded that middle-aged people who report that they are slow walkers could be at higher risk of heart disease compared to the general population. The UK Biobank collected the data analysed between 2006 and 2010 from nearly half a million middle-aged people across the UK. 420,727 people were included in the research because they were free from cancer and heart disease at the time of collecting their information.
The study is published in the European Heart Journal.In the following 6.3 years after the data was collected there were 8598 deaths with the sample population being studied: 1654 from cardiovascular disease and 4850 from cancer.
Professor Tom Yates, a Reader in Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Health at the University of Leicester and Principal Investigator for the study, said: “Our study was interested in the links between whether someone said they walked at a slow, steady or brisk pace and whether that could predict their risk of dying from heart disease or cancer in the future…”
“Slow walkers were around twice as likely to have a heart-related death compared to brisk walkers. This finding was seen in both men and women and was not explained by related risk factors such as smoking, body mass index, diet or how much television the participants in the sample watched. This suggests habitual walking pace is an independent predictor of heart-related death.
“We also found that self-reported walking pace was strongly linked to an individual’s objectively measured exercise tolerance, further suggesting walking pace is a good measure of overall physical fitness. Therefore, self-reported walking pace could be used to identify individuals who have low physical fitness and high mortality risk that would benefit from targeted physical exercise interventions.”
The research team also analysed actual handgrip strength as measured by a dynamometer to see if it was a good predictor of cancer or heart-related deaths. Handgrip strength appeared to be only a weak predictor of heart-related deaths in men and could not be generalised across the population as a whole.Associations between self-reported walking pace and handgrip strength and cancer-related deaths were not consistent.
Meanwhile, dark chocolate enriched with extra virgin olive oil is associated with an improved cardiovascular risk profile, according to research presented at ESC Congress.”A healthy diet is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said lead author Dr. Rossella Di Stefano, a cardiologist at the University of Pisa, Italy. “Fruits and vegetables exert their protective effects through plant polyphenols, which are found in cocoa, olive oil, and apples. Research has found that the Italian Panaia red apple has very high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants.”
This study tested the association between consumption of dark chocolate enriched with extra virgin olive oil or Panaia red apple with atherosclerosis progression in healthy individuals with cardiovascular risk factors.
The randomised crossover study included 26 volunteers (14 men, 12 women) with at least three cardiovascular risk factors (smoking, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, or family history of cardiovascular disease) who received 40 grams of dark chocolate daily for 28 days. For 14 consecutive days it contained 10 per cent extra virgin olive oil and for 14 consecutive days it contained 2.5 per cent Panaia red apple. The two types of chocolate were given in random order.
Progression of atherosclerosis was assessed by metabolic changes (levels of carnitine and hippurate), lipid profile, blood pressure; and levels of circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). EPCs are critical for vascular repair and maintenance of endothelial function.
Urine and blood samples were collected at baseline and after the intervention. Urine samples were analysed by proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for endogenous metabolites. Circulating EPC levels were assessed with flow cytometry. Smoking status, body mass index, blood pressure, glycaemia and lipid profile were also monitored.
After 28 days, the researchers found that the chocolate enriched with olive oil was associated with significantly increased EPC levels and decreased carnitine and hippurate levels compared to both baseline and after consumption of apple-enriched chocolate. Olive oil-enriched chocolate was associated with significantly increased high-density lipoprotein (“good”) cholesterol and decreased blood pressure compared to baseline. There was a non-significant decrease in triglyceride levels with apple-enriched chocolate.
Dr. Di Stefano said: “We found that small daily portions of dark chocolate with added natural polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil was associated with an improved cardiovascular risk profile. Our study suggests that extra virgin olive oil might be a good food additive to help preserve our ‘repairing cells’, the EPC.”
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