Lack of exercise and excess body weight have been linked to heart conditions in the past, however, new research has found a connection between these factors and a difficult to treat form of heart failure.
Heart failure occurs when your heart has difficulty providing enough oxygenated blood to the various parts of your body and is split into two categories: heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) and heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF).
HFpEF is the more difficult of the two to treat and has recently been linked to low levels of exercise and high BMIs—body mass indexes. HFpEF causes the heart to stiffen and become rigid, resisting expansion and interfering with its ability to properly pump blood throughout the body. In HFpEF, the heart is not able to relax enough, and in HFrEF, the heart is not able to squeeze enough. While many treatment methods exist for HFrEF, there are no evidence-based methods that are effective in treating HFpEF, making prevention of this type of heart failure specifically important.
The study analyzed data from 51,000 participants and found that 3,180 of these volunteers developed heart failure—39 percent classified as HFpEF, 29 percent classified as HFrEF, and 32 were unclassified at the time of the study. It was found that higher BMI levels were more strongly linked to HFpEF than HFrEF, while those who exercised regularly had a 19 percent lower risk of developing HFpEF.
The results of this study highlight the importance of a healthy lifestyle, as it can help reduce your risk of suffering from heart failure, specifically heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.