Sitting Disease: February 15, 2014

Failure to move is resulting in heart failure- that’s the latest from a new study. Half of our adult population admits to sitting at least six hours a day. And it’s breaking our hearts.

“Most of the things that we can do to try and prevent congestive heart failure surround many of the same things that you often hear about good cardiac health: you need to make certain that you’re maintaining a reasonably body weight, watching your blood pressure, trying to get exercise,” says Dr. Richard Chazal, cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

Sometimes called ‘sitting disease’ researchers find the risk of heart failure was more than double for men who sat at least five hours a day outside of work and didn’t exercise - compared to men who were active and sat for less than two hours each day.

“Congestive heart failure can be somewhat occult and sneak up on one. Often unexplained weight gain accompanied by shortness of breath is the thing that tips you off that it’s early congestive heart failure,” says Dr. Chazal.

About 1 in 5 Americans over 40 will eventually develop heart failure. The medical term doesn’t mean the heart stops beating, it refers to an impaired function that generally gets worse over time.

“The term failure in this case means the failure of the heart to accommodate the normal blood volume and thus fluid volume in the body. And there are acute situations requiring hospitalization,” says Dr. Chazal.

Key contributors are hypertension and coronary artery disease- studies show men who had both but exercised more and sat less, had lower levels of heart failure. So it stands to reason, that getting up from the chair does your heart good.