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Walking decreases death risk in hypertension, osteoarthritis

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A new research has shown that people with osteoarthritis are at an increased risk of premature death and that lack of walking is the key-contributing factor.

A study appearing in the journal RMD Open has demonstrated that people who have osteoarthritis (OA) are more likely than other people to die prematurely.

When the researchers behind the study considered what preventable factors might be contributing to this, they found that lack of regular walking was a key issue.

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According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OA is a type of arthritis that mainly affects the joints of a person’s hips, hands, and knees.

OA develops when the cartilage between bone joints wears down, which then affects the bones themselves.

The typical symptoms of OA are pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in the affected joints, which can make it difficult for a person to stay mobile without significant support.

There is no cure for OA, so treatment typically focuses on relieving symptoms and increasing a person’s quality of life.Previous research has identified a link between OA and mortality. However, experts do not fully understand the precise mechanisms behind this link.

The authors of the recent study set out to gain a better understanding of these mechanisms, with the hope that the information would help clinicians better support people with OA and reduce their risk of mortality.

The study took place over 10 years, during which the researchers monitored more than 10,000 people over the age of 50 years who had OA.The team used a variety of statistical methods to take into account other confounding factors that might also affect a person’s mortality.

After doing this, the authors found that people with OA have an 11 per cent greater risk of premature death than those without the condition.Based on previous research, the authors then looked at three factors that may affect this increased risk of death: walking, depression and anxiety, and unrefreshed sleep.

They found that the strongest association between OA and premature death was in people who did not walk very often.Although unrefreshed sleep and depression and anxiety also appeared to increase the chances of death, the authors argued that the difference was too small to be clinically relevant.

As a consequence, a key finding of the study is that clinicians should prioritize keeping people with OA active to lower their risk of death.

The authors note that previous research has indicated a link between walking disabilities and mortality. Being active has major health benefits and helps the body combat various diseases that can cause death.

Interestingly, however, a significant number of the study participants reported that they were not regularly walking as far as they felt they could.
This finding suggests that there is room for clinicians to explore ways of helping people with OA to walk more within the limitations of their condition.

As the authors of the study note, “Small amounts of regular walking and getting out and about can offer protection against comorbidity, including depression and CVD [cardiovascular disease].”

Although doctors do not typically consider OA to be life threatening, the study makes it clear that a significant number of people will die as a consequence of the condition. Therefore, encouraging these individuals to walk as regularly as their health allows is a key way to combat this risk.

As Dr. Ross Wilkie, a senior lecturer in public health and epidemiology at Keele University, United Kingdom, says, “Linked to a population health approach, encouraging people to be more active despite having osteoarthritis is important.”

Also, a new study has found that people who walk more also have lower blood pressure. This confirms existing notions that keeping active is good for cardiovascular health.

People who walk more also have lower blood pressure, according to a recent study.Abnormally high blood pressure (hypertension) affects almost half of the United States’ adult population, and it is one of the main risk factors for more serious cardiovascular conditions and events, such as heart disease and stroke.

Past research has shown that one way of preventing hypertension is through regular exercise, and now, a new study may add to the evidence that physical activity helps safeguard cardiovascular health.

The study — led by researchers from the University of California in San Francisco, United States — found a link between how much a person walks each day and their blood pressure levels.

Its authors presented these findings at this year’s American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session Together with World Congress of Cardiology in Chicago, IL.

The researchers looked at data collected from 638 participants enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study. These participants wore an Apple Watch every day, for at least five hours each time.

The smart watch recorded the number of steps they took on a daily basis. The volunteers also recorded their own blood pressure at home on a weekly basis for the duration of the study — which lasted about five months.

Over the study period, the researchers noted that the participants’ average systolic blood pressure, which is the blood pressure when the heart contracts, was 122 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

Their average diastolic blood pressure, which is the blood pressure when the heart relaxes, was 76 mm Hg.Both of these measurements indicate normal to slightly elevated blood pressure, according to the latest guidelines issued by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.

The study researchers found — after having accounted for possible confounding factors — that for every 1,000 steps a participant took per day, their systolic blood pressure was approximately 0.45 points lower.

This suggests that a person who takes about 10,000 steps each day has a 2.25 points lower systolic blood pressure than someone who takes half that amount of steps.

On average, over the five-month period, participants took about 7,500 steps a day.Although the study was observational and did not aim to ascertain causal relationships, the investigators argue that it adds to the evidence that regular physical activity can help protect cardiovascular health.

“Measuring habitual physical activity in community-based settings in this way distinguishes our study from prior studies that have looked at either self-reported physical activity or used accelerometers to measure daily activity for only a short amount of time, usually about a week,” notes lead author Dr. Mayank Sardana.

Smart devices to the rescue?
However, another analysis included in the study also indicated that if they took into account a person’s weight, as measured through their body mass index (BMI), the association between the number of steps taken per day and blood pressure was no longer significant.

This, the researchers suggest, might mean that weight mediates the relationship between physical activity and cardiovascular health.

“This study solidifies our understanding of the relationship between physical activity and blood pressure and raises the possibility that obesity or (BMI) accounts for a lot of that relationship,” says Sardana.

The investigators go on to emphasize that in the future it will be necessary to find out whether body weight affects how much a person is able to walk each day or vice versa.

“We should look to future studies to answer the question of directionality with a randomized trial or cohort intervention,” says Sardana.


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