Researchers have uncovered that a common hormone linked with heart disease may also indicate whether a person is aging healthily or not. More specifically, high levels of brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) are connected with a higher likelihood of growing weaker and losing balance.
The researchers found that those in their 60s with high levels of BNP walked slower, were less likely to be able to get up off of a chair, and could not balance on one leg nine years later in life.
High levels of BNP are already associated with a higher risk of heart attack along with other diseases, but the latest findings suggest that high levels of BNP can signal other health problems too.
Yoav Ben-Shlomo, who helped the authors of the study, explained, “We were surprised that BNP turned out to be the best predictor of our simple measures of aging.”
BNP is produced by the heart’s left ventricle when the heart pumps blood. It is suggested that a person in their 30s and 40s with elevated BNP levels could begin to improve their aging by adjusting their lifestyle habits. They should exercise more and eat better so that later in life they not only improve their heart, but age better overall.
The study looked at 1,736 British men and women who were followed since birth and took physical performance tests at ages 60 to 65. Ben-Shlomo added, “Our measures include how strong your grip is, how fast you walk a specific distance, how long it takes you to rise from a chair ten times and how long you are able to stand on one leg, which is called the flamingo test.”
If the research findings are confirmed, it could provide future generations better insight on how to slow down aging. The theory now is that if you can improve physical activity midlife, then you can improve BNP levels later in life. The latest study reinforces the idea that exercise is an integral part of healthy aging and that you can improve your aging outcomes by staying regularly active.
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