Step Counts Help Heart Failure Patients Too: They’re Not Just for the Healthy

Smartwatches and other wearable technology continuously monitor physical activity, encouraging people to walk more each day for better health.
Now, a recent study indicates that those whose hearts are failing could benefit greatly from this moderate electronic prodding.

Researchers have found that individuals with heart failure who walk between 1,000 and 5,000 steps per day had a significant improvement in their symptoms and fewer physical restrictions than those who walk less.
Additionally, they discovered that cardiac patients seem to see a clinically significant improvement in physical function and symptom control if they increase their step counts.

Professor of cardiology at the University of Michigan Medical School and lead researcher Dr. Brahmajee Nallamothu stated that these findings demonstrate the potential value of wearable technology in aiding individuals in managing heart failure.

Nallamothu remarked, “I can see scenarios where these gadgets might assist us deliver advice or recommendations.” We may be able to use the number of steps a patient has made to interfere slightly by saying, “You haven’t been moving as much this week as you were last week,” using that knowledge. Even though you may have a busy schedule, the weather is lovely outside. It would be a good idea to go for a walk today or tomorrow.

When the heart gets too weak or rigid to adequately pump blood out to the body, heart failure ensues. Patients experience exhaustion and dyspnea, which makes it very challenging to carry out routine tasks like grocery shopping, stair climbing, and walking.

For the study, 425 heart failure patients who took part in a clinical trial for the diabetes medication canagliflozin (Invokana) had their data examined by Nallamothu and colleagues.

Fitbit Versa 2 devices were given to the patients as part of the research to monitor their daily activity and step count. For analysis, this data was saved after being uploaded to a smartphone that was compatible.

The individuals with heart failure who walked 2,000 steps a day exhibited better scores for physical limitation and symptoms than those who walked 1,000 steps a day, according to the results.

The study also discovered that, in comparison to individuals who did not walk more, those who raised their step count during the 12-week clinical trial seemed to boost their physical limitation scores.

“This study offers us an encouraging idea as to how people with heart failure might maintain relatively healthy,” said Frederick Ho, a cardiovascular epidemiologist and University of Glasgow lecturer in public health. “People’s mobility is affected by the condition, but perhaps if they tried to walk a little more, their symptoms could be better controlled.”

But there were boundaries. Patients with heart failure did not seem to gain further from walking more than 5,000 steps.

According to earlier research, patients with heart failure can benefit from gradually increasing their physical activity levels, according to Nallamothu.

“That’s one of the reasons heart failure patients are frequently advised to participate in cardiac rehabilitation programs,” he stated.

According to Nallamothu, this new study demonstrates the potential of wearable technology to improve data collection on patients’ everyday lives and to promote greater walking.

Nallamothu stated, “I believe that many of these tools are designed to give us insights into patients’ lives over a longer period of time.” When I consider how wearables and smartwatches could improve clinical care, I get thrilled about the possibility of beginning to learn about patients outside of the doctor’s office, whether they are at home, at work, on vacation, or somewhere else entirely.

However, the chair of the Heart Failure and Transplant Council of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Maya Guglin, cautioned against reading too much into this study because there may be a negative correlation between daily steps and heart failure.Put another way, she pointed out that those with fewer symptoms and disabilities can be more able and inclined to walk more every day, even if those steps don’t always improve their health.

It is quite foreseeable. Walking is more common among those who lead better lives, according to Guglin, medical director of Indiana University’s Advanced Heart Failure Program. “They walk more when they feel better and when they have less symptoms. an increased number of stairs, steps, and so forth.

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