How Fast Can You Climb 4 Flights of Stairs Can Reveal A Lot About Your Heart Health
If you want to know how healthy your heart is then a simple test can tell you everything you need to know. But, this doesn’t mean that you need to go take a medical test. For this heart examination the only place you need to go to is your nearest high-rise building. You might be wondering what does a high-rise building have to do anything with a heart examination…Well, according to researchers from Spain, an accurate indicator of good heart health is being able to climb four flights of stairs in under a minute.
1The stairs test is an easy way to get an accurate idea about your heart health
Dr. Jesus Peteiro, a cardiologist at University Hospital a Coruña and a study author said- “The stairs test is an easy way to check your heart health. If it takes you more than one and a half minutes to ascend four flights of stairs, your health is suboptimal and it would be a good idea to consult a doctor”.
2A study was conducted to back up this theory
At a recent scientific meeting of the European Society of Cardiology a study was presented which compared the results of the stair-climbing test with the results obtained from exercises testing conducted in a lab. But, this study is yet to be peer reviewed or published in a scientific journal.
There were 165 participant involved in the exercise part of the study. Each of them either ran on a treadmill or walked until exhaustion, while their exercise capacity measured as metabolic equivalents (METs). The same group, after a rest period were made to climb four flights of stairs (60 steps) at a fast pace but not exactly running. Their METs were measured once again. The results showed that those participants who succeeded in climbing the stairs in less than 40-45 seconds achieved METs which were more than 9-10.
3Past studies prove that METs of 10 or more were linked to low death rates
According to past studies, achieving 10 METs during an exercise test was linked with a low death rate of 10 percent over a 10-year span or 1 percent or less per year. In the above mentioned study, participants who climbed the stairs in 1.5 minutes or longer achieved less than 8 METs, which translates to an anticipated death rate of 30 percent in 10 years or 2 to 4 percent per year.
As per imaging of heart function during the tests, it was revealed that 58% of the participants who had taken longer than 1.5 minutes to climb the stairs had an abnormal heart function during exercise.
41 in 3 participants demonstrated abnormal heart function
Even among those participants who climbed the stairs quickly, nearly 1 in 3 participants still demonstrated abnormal heart function which is a possible marker for coronary heart disease. Dr. Renee Bullock-Palmer, a cardiologist and director of the Women’s Heart Center and director of noninvasive cardiac imaging at the Deborah Heart and Lung Center in New Jersey stated “that fact demonstrates why the stair-climbing test shouldn’t be viewed as a substitute for more comprehensive evaluations”.
Bullock-Palmer explained “Based on the study, the ability to climb stairs can be used as a crude way to assess one’s physical function that may be predictive of overall heart health. However, I believe that this crude self-assessment cannot take the place of a proper physical exam, and history by a physician, and a proper, appropriately indicated stress test”.
5Founder of the online heart health agreed with Dr. Bullock-Palmer’s explanation.
Founder of the online heart health practice- ‘Whole Heart Cardiology’, Dr. Nicole Harkin agreed with Dr. Bullock-Palmer’s explanation as she said “During a more typical stress test, sometimes we see evidence of heart problems (like changes in the EKG or the sonogram), even if a patient doesn’t have symptoms. Other times we pick up other issues, like dangerous blood pressure changes or heart rhythm issues that would be missed with this kind of test”.