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30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease

Raghu Kshitiz

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KATHMANDU — Exercising at least 30 minutes four or five days a week (150 mins a week) is associated with a reduced risk of death and cardiovascular disease, according to the study of physical activity tracking 130,000 people in 17 countries.

Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood through to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen.

Though there is no cure for this condition, one can choose to lead a healthy lifestyle to lower the risk of heart failures, according to a study published in The Lancet.

Being highly active (750 mins a week) is associated with an even greater reduction, and the authors found that this was more achievable for those who built physical activity into their day through active transport, job type, or housework.

The researchers claimed that exercise could reverse damage to sedentary, ageing hearts and help to prevent the risk of future heart failure.

“Based on a series of studies performed by our team over the past five years, this ‘dose’ of exercise has become my prescription for life. I think people should be able to do this as part of their personal hygiene – just like brushing your teeth and taking a shower,” said study’s lead author Dr Benjamin Levine.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) also recommend that adults aged 18-64 years old do at least 150 minutes of moderate to intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, as well as muscle strengthening exercises at least two days a week.

Levine noted, “When the muscle stiffens, you get high pressure and the heart chamber doesn’t fill as well with blood. In its most severe form, blood can back up into the lungs. That’s when heart failure develops.”

In the study, participants aged 35-70 years old from urban and rural areas in 17 countries across various world regions completed questionnaires on their levels of physical activity.

In the beginning of the study, each participant provided information on their socioeconomic status, lifestyle behaviors, medical history, family history of cardiovascular disease, weight, height, waist and hip measurements, and blood pressure.

They also completed a questionnaire on the types of physical activity they completed over a typical week, which the researchers used to calculate their average activity levels.

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Of the 106970 people who met the activity guidelines, 3.8% developed cardiovascular disease, compared to 5.1% of people who did not (23549 people). Risk of mortality was also higher for people who did not meet the recommended amount of activity — 6.4% compared to 4.2% for people who met guidelines.

The findings suggest that, if the entire population met physical activity guidelines, 8% of deaths (equivalent to around one in 12 cases) and 4.6% of cardiovascular disease cases (almost one in 20 cases) could be prevented.

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Drinking 3 cups of coffee or tea daily may keep stroke risk at bay

Raghu Kshitiz

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KATHMANDU — There have been several conflicting studies on the health benefits of drinking coffee and tea and their various varieties. But drinking up to three cups of coffee or tea in a day is safe because it reduces irregular heartbeat and stroke risk, according to a new study published in the journal JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology.

Coffee has previously been believed to worsen abnormal heart rhythms, as doctors generally discourage patients suffering from the condition. However, the results of this particular study say that a daily consumption of upto 300 mg of caffeine may be safe for arrhythmic patients.

This is because the caffeine acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and blocks the effect of adenosine. Adenosine is a chemical which causes Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

A single cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine. It acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and works to block the effects of adenosine — a chemical that causes AFib.

AFib is the most common heart rhythm disorder, causes the heart to beat rapidly and skip beats, and if left untreated, can cause strokes.

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“There is a public perception, often based on anecdotal experience, that caffeine is a common acute trigger for heart rhythm problems,” said lead author Peter Kistler, Director at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital.

But, “caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea have long-term anti-arrhythmic properties mediated by antioxidant effects and antagonism of adenosine,” he added.

A meta-analysis of 228,465 participants showed that AFib frequency decreasing by 6 per cent in regular coffee drinkers, and an analysis of 115,993 patients showed a 13 per cent reduced risk.

Another study of 103 post-heart attack patients who received an average of 353 mg of caffeine a day showed improvement in heart rate and no significant arrhythmias — or abnormal heart rhythms, that cause the heart to beat too fast, slow or unevenly.

However, in two studies, where patients drank at least 10 cups and nine cups of coffee per day, showed an increased risk for ventricular arrhythmias (VAs) – a condition in which the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) beat very quickly.

On the other hand, patients with pre-existing heart conditions who consumed two or more energy drinks — that contains concentrated caffeine — per day reported palpitations within 24 hours.

With Agency Inputs

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