What's the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest?
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A heart attack occurs when a sudden blockage prevents blood from reaching the vital organ. This may immediately cause sharp pain in the chest, which sometimes radiates across the jaw and down the arms. Smoking is an infamous risk factor for the condition. According to a new study, sitting for prolonged periods of time may be nearly as bad.
A new body of research published in JAMA Cardiology, has reinforced existing evidence that sitting and sedentary behaviour is dangerous for the heart.
Habitual inactivity is a harbinger of several chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis, and metabolic syndrome.
The new study confirmed this after conducting a survey of more than 100,000 people from 21 countries.
The study followed individuals over an average of 11 years, to determine how their behaviour determined their risk of cardiovascular disease.
READ MORE: Heart attack: Scientists discover sign in the eyes that may precede symptoms by ‘years’
Participants who sat for six to eight hours per day had a 12 to 13 percent higher risk of dying early or heart disease.
Those who sat for more than eight hours daily, saw their risk increase to 20 percent.
An interesting finding to emerge from the study was that although sitting was problematic in all countries, it was especially problematic in low-income and lower-middle-income countries.
This led the authors to speculate that in higher-income countries, sitting is typically associated with higher socioeconomic status and better-paying jobs.
The research has also added to a line of evidence that sedentary behaviour is driving high heart disease rates in the West.
Professor Scott Lear, from Simon Fraser University, said: “The overarching message here is to minimise how much you sit.
“If you must sit, getting in more exercise during other times of the day will offset that risk.
“For those sitting more than four houses a day, replacing a half-hour of sitting with exercise reduced the risk by two percent.”
The researchers noted that with so few people meeting current activity guidelines, there’s a real opportunity here for people to increase their activity and reduce their chances of early death and heart disease.
“Our study found that a combination of sitting and inactivity accounted for 8.8 percent of all deaths, which is close to the contribution of smoking,” added Professor Lear.
“It’s a global problem that has a remarkably simple fix. Scheduling time to get out of that chair is a great start.”
Even a small amount of exercise can have significant health effects, regardless of whether or not weight is lost in the process.
Regular exercise can help improve the condition of the heart by making the blood circulatory system more efficient.
It can also lower cholesterol and blood pressure, which both contribute to heart disease when elevated.
To keep the vital organ in good nick, however, the NHS suggests coupling regular exercise with a healthy diet.
“A low-fat, high-fibre diet is recommended, which should include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five portions a day) and whole grains,” explains the health body.
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