No miracle: to limit the risk of heart failure, women over 50 should limit their sedentary activities and exercise more. In any case, that's what a new scientific study suggests.

Even with regular physical activity, women over 50 who spend a lot of time sedentary (sitting or lying) see their risk of heart failure increase significantly. This is what American researchers found in a scientific study, the results of which are published in the trade journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

"For the prevention of heart failure, we need to promote taking frequent breaks after prolonged sitting or lying down, in addition to trying to achieve recommended levels of physical activity," said Michael. J. LaMonte, lead author of the study and associate research professor in epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Buffalo (New York, United States). “Very few studies have been published on sedentary time and the risk of heart failure, and even fewer studies have focused on older women in whom sedentary behavior and heart failure are quite common”, he added.

The study was carried out here using the files of nearly 81,000 postmenopausal women (aged 63 on average), and who participated in the “Women's Health Initiative Observational Study”. Participants reported how much time they spent during the day sitting, lying or physically active. The researchers then ranked the participants according to their total time spent inactive each day.

“For your cardiovascular health, sit less”

During the average 9 years of follow-up, 1,402 women were hospitalized for heart failure. Compared with women who reported spending less than 6.5 hours per day sitting or lying down, the risk of hospitalization for heart failure was:

15% higher among women reporting 6.6 to 9.5 hours per day spent sitting or lying down;
42% higher among women reporting more than 9.5 hours per day spent sitting or lying down.

Compared with women who reported sitting less than 4.5 hours per day, the risk of hospitalization for heart failure was:

14% higher in women who sat between 4.6 and 8.5 hours per day;
and 54% higher for women who sat for more than 8.5 hours per day.

“Our message is simple: sit less and move more. Historically, we have focused on promoting a physically active lifestyle for heart health - and we should continue to do so! However, our study clearly shows that we must also redouble our efforts to reduce the daily sedentary time and encourage adults to frequently interrupt their sedentary time, ”said Prof. Michael J. LaMonte. He clarified that “it does not necessarily require a long period of physical activity; it could be just standing for 5 minutes or standing up and moving your feet. We do not have sufficient evidence on the best approach to recommend for interrupting sedentary activity. However, the accumulation of data suggests that usual activities such as housework and other activities of daily living are an important aspect in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and healthy aging, ”added the researcher.