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Better heart health can reduce risk of frailty in old age

Monday 21st May 2018
Helping people to improve their heart health could stop them from suffering frailty in later life, according to a new study.
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Helping older people to reduce their heart disease risk factors could also address the problem of frailty, according to new research.

A study from the University of Exeter has analysed data from more than 421,000 people aged 60 to 69 over ten years, focusing on six factors that could impact on heart health: uncontrolled high blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, being overweight, doing little physical activity and being a current smoker.

It was shown that severe frailty was 85 per cent less likely to occur in those with near ideal cardiovascular risk factors, while those with fewer heart disease risk factors were much less likely to have other conditions unrelated to heart health, including chronic pain, incontinence, falls, fractures and dementia.

This represents the first large-scale study to show that older people with near-ideal cardiovascular risk factor profiles tend to have better outcomes on a number of factors that are not directly linked to heart disease, and suggests that many health issues that are often seen as inevitable age-related complications can actually be avoided by paying closer attention to heart health.

The new results also show that age-related conditions may share common risk factors or mechanisms with cardiovascular diseases, underlining the importance of monitoring disease risks as early in life as possible and using lifestyle interventions to prevent them.

Dr Joao Delgado, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: "This study indicates that frailty and other age-related diseases could be prevented and significantly reduced in older adults. Getting our heart risk factors under control could lead to much healthier old ages.

"Unfortunately, the current obesity epidemic is moving the older population in the wrong direction; however, our study underlines how even small reductions in risk are worthwhile."

Written by Mathew Horton

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