How Fast Can You Climb 4 Flights of Stairs Can Reveal A Lot About Your Heart Health

6The study participants showed symptoms associated with coronary artery disease

During the exercise each and every study participant showed symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain which were associated with coronary artery disease. Peteiro explained that “The idea was to find a simple and inexpensive method of assessing heart health. This can help physicians triage patients for more extensive examinations”.

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The study participants showed symptoms associated with coronary artery disease

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7Stair climbing is a common method of assessing heart health

Harkin noted that doctors often use stair climbing to assess heart health. “It’s an exercise that gets your heart rate up relatively quickly. Typically, if there’s an issue like a blocked heart artery, people tend to get symptoms (like chest pain or shortness of breath) at higher heart rates. We often use a person’s ability to climb a flight or two of stairs without issue as a sign that they should probably do OK during surgery”, she explained.

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Stair climbing is a common method of assessing heart health

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8The stair climbing test has limitations

A cardiologist at Yale Medicine and assistant professor of medicine at Yale named Dr. Oyere K. Onuma stated that the stair-climbing test may be useful but it too has its limitations. According to Onuma’s statement- “The big advantage of this method is its ease. It can be done almost anywhere with very little requirement in terms of equipment or personnel. It is also much cheaper and faster to do than the traditional stress tests and can be repeated multiple times to track any progress or changes in functional ability”.

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“The big advantage of this method is its ease. It can be done almost anywhere with very little requirement in terms of equipment or personnel. It is also much cheaper and faster to do than the traditional stress tests and can be repeated multiple times to track any progress or changes in functional ability”, she explained.

But Onuma also did say- “However, the flip side of this is that the test is not standardized… the type of stairs, speed of climbing the stairs, timing of effort can differ. This method also significantly limits the evaluation of patients with limited mobility and elderly patients, who may have more mechanical difficulty with climbing stairs”.

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The stair climbing test has limitations

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9Each person is different and everyone needs to be assessed differently

Dr. Jeremy Pollok, a cardiologist with the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center said “As a physician, it’s important to evaluate each patient and assess his or her current capabilities and state of health. As an example, a frail 80-year-old, mostly sedentary patient should never be asked to walk up a flight of stairs. Being able to complete a short duration of strenuous exercise is a nice predictor that a patient is relatively low risk in the short term from a cardiovascular perspective”.

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Each person is different and everyone needs to be assessed differently

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10Stair-climbing isn’t the only test for heart health

Pollock later went on to say that stair-climbing isn’t the only way to assess heart health. He explained that, “Factors such as whether or not they can walk two city blocks or carry grocery bags to their car, or numerous other regular activities of daily living, can be used as indicators of cardiovascular health”.

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Harkin added to this by saying “Exercise ability is always a great indicator of overall heart health. If your ability to complete a moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise program ever changes, that’s a good sign something may be going on, and you should contact your doctor”.

Stair-climbing isn’t the only test for heart health

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11People with joint issues may not be able to get a correct assessment of their heart health

According to Dr. Deane Waldman, a professor emeritus of pediatrics, pathology, and decision science as well as a former director of the Center for Healthcare Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, cautioned people with diabetes and joint issues about taking the stair-climbing test. He said “Climbing stairs is hard on the knee joint”. He explained that people with these issues should avoid stair-climbing as a regular form of exercise as well since it will puts unnecessary stress on their leg joints.

People with joint issues may not be able to get a correct assessment of their heart health

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