Heart Disease May Affect Walking Speed in Seniors
There may be a link between heart disease and slower walking speed in adults between 60 and 78, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. In fact, according to researchers, the more risk factors for heart disease a person has, the faster the decline in walking speed.
This study was conducted between 2001 and 2004 by researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. The goal of the research was to look at factors that raise the risk for physical limitations that can develop with age. At the start of the study, none of the participants – all of whom were over 60 – had heart disease or problems with balance or walking speed.
Follow-up information about the participants’ physical activity levels, alcohol consumption, body mass index (BMI), ability to think and make decisions (cognitive function), and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels (an indicator of heart disease) was collected at regular intervals during the study period. Researchers identified the link between heart disease risk factors and slower walking speed only in study participants under 78 – not in older adults. They also discovered that cognitive function does not play a role in this link, and that heart disease risks are not associated with balance problems.