Strong legs can lessen heart failure risk, 1 study finds

Every year, about a million people in the United Kingdom suffer from heart failure, and a new scientific study suggests that one physical trait in particular may lessen one’s risk of having the deadly ailment.

How can your legs reduce heart failure risk?

Kitasato University in Tokyo, Japan, studied the leg strength of 1,000 people and discovered that for every 5% increase in body weight in the legs, the chance of heart failure decreased by 11%.

The results show that patients with good quad strength had a 41% decreased risk of developing heart failure after a heart attack.

The findings support previous research that has linked strength training to lower blood pressure, protection against heart disease, and enhanced circulation.

According to co-author Kensuke Ueno, “Strength training involving the quadriceps muscles should be recommended for patients who have experienced a heart attack to prevent heart failure.”

According to the NHS, heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, primarily affects elderly individuals and happens when the heart becomes too weak, injured, or stiff to properly pump blood around the body.

Heart failure is not a death sentence in and of itself, but it does necessitate specialised care. Many causes of heart failure are unknown, however, the most common ones are Coronary heart disease, inherited heart disease, Hypertension, abnormalities in heart rhythm or valves, and Myocarditis.

How to Prevent Heart Failure

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have also identified several lifestyle factors that may increase the risk of heart failure, such as smoking, eating meals high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, not being physically active enough, and drinking too much alcohol. Obesity may also be connected to heart failure.

“A larger waist measurement is often a sign that you have too much visceral fat, which sits around our internal organs and impairs the way our heart and blood vessels function,” said James Leiper, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

“Heart failure is a chronic and incurable condition that worsens over time, so these findings underline the importance of managing your weight now.”

The main symptoms of heart failure to look out for include:

  • Breathlessness after activity or at rest
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Feeling tired most of the time and finding exercise particularly exhausting
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Swollen ankles, legs and stomach
  • Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness
  • Rapid weight gain from fluid build-up
  • A cough that brings up white or pink mucus with spots of blood
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain if heart failure is caused by a heart attack

Some people also have a persistent cough, a rapid heart rate, and dizziness. In the instance of acute heart failure, symptoms may appear suddenly, while in the case of chronic heart failure, symptoms may appear gradually over weeks or months.

The NHS recommends that anyone who is suffering chronic or gradually worsening symptoms consult their doctor as soon as possible. Treatment options include lifestyle changes, medication, implanted devices to modulate heart rhythm, and, in rare cases, bypass surgery and heart transplants.