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Walking faster could make you live longer

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Walking faster could make you live longer, a study led by the University of Sydney suggests. Walking at an average pace was found to be associated with a 20 percent risk reduction for all-cause mortality compared with walking at a slow pace, while walking at a brisk or fast pace was associated with a risk reduction of 24 percent.

A similar result was found for risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, with a reduction of 24 percent walking at an average pace and 21 percent walking at a brisk or fast pace, compared to walking at a slow pace.

“A fast pace is generally five to seven kilometers per hour, but it really depends on a walker’s fitness levels; an alternative indicator is to walk at a pace that makes you slightly out of breath or sweaty when sustained,” lead author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis explained in the findings published in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The researchers sought to determine the associations between walking pace with all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality.

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The protective effects of walking pace were also found to be more pronounced in older age groups. Average pace walkers aged 60 years or over experienced a 46 percent reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular causes, and fast pace walkers a 53 percent reduction.

“Walking pace is associated with all-cause mortality risk, but its specific role – independent from the total physical activity a person undertakes – has received little attention until now,” Professor Stamatakis said.

“While sex and body mass index did not appear to influence outcomes, walking at an average or fast pace was associated with a significantly reduced risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease. There was no evidence to suggest pace had a significant influence on cancer mortality however.”

In light of the findings, the research team is calling for walking pace to be emphasised in public health messages.
“Separating the effect of one specific aspect of physical activity and understanding its potentially causal association with risk of premature death is complex,” Professor Stamatakis said.

“Assuming our results reflect cause and effect, these analyses suggest that increasing walking pace may be a straightforward way for people to improve heart health and risk for premature mortality – providing a simple message for public health campaigns to promote.

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Single blood test might be enough to diagnose diabetes

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A new study report has suggested that it may be possible to diagnose type 2 diabetes by measuring fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) using the same blood sample without requiring a patient to come back for a second visit and saving patients time and health care cost.

The findings, from the prospective Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, were published online June 19 in Annals of Internal Medicine by Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues.

Until now, it’s recommended that a blood test focused on elevated fasting levels of blood sugar (glucose) or a blood component called glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) be confirmed with a second blood test at a follow-up visit which takes time and money and could still result in missed diagnoses, said a team from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

In the new study, researchers led by Hopkins epidemiologist Elizabeth Selvin looked at data on more than 13,000 people in a long-running US heart disease study. The study began in the 1980s, and along the way has recorded valuable data from participants, including diabetes test data.

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The team analyzed that data, and reported that a positive result for glucose and HbA1c from just a single blood sample can confirm type 2 diabetes.

” This could change care potentially allowing a major simplification of current clinical practice guidelines,” Selvin said in a university news release.

“Doctors are already doing these [glucose and HbA1c] tests together — if a patient is obese, for example, and has other risk factors for diabetes, the physician is likely to order tests for both glucose and HbA1c from a single blood sample.

“It’s just that the guidelines don’t clearly let you use the tests from that one blood sample to make the initial diabetes diagnosis,” she explained.

“I’m hoping that these results will lead to a change in the clinical guidelines when they are revised in early 2019, which could make identifying diabetes a lot more efficient in many cases,” Selvin said.

Diabetes experts welcomed the findings.

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