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Elderly Slow Walkers at More Risk of Cardiovascular Death

Study finds association applies regardless of sex, body mass index or age

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Elders who walk slowly are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than their faster walking counterparts, regardless of age, sex, body mass index or the amount of physical activity they engage in, according to a study published Nov. 10 in BMJ.

Julien Dumurgier, M.D., of INSERM in Paris, and colleagues conducted a study of 3,208 community-dwelling men and women aged 65 years and above who were followed up for an average of 5.1 years.

During follow-up, 209 participants died, 99 due to cancer and 59 from cardiovascular disease, while 51 died from other causes, the researchers found. There was a higher risk of mortality among the lowest third based on walking speed versus the upper two-thirds (hazard ratio, 1.44), and the risk of cardiovascular death among slow walkers increased about three-fold compared to the risk for faster walkers, while there was no increased risk of cancer mortality noted.

"This increased risk of cardiovascular death was seen in both sexes, younger as well as in older participants, those with or without a high risk vascular profile, and those with low or usual physical activity," the authors write. "These findings show that assessment of motor performances in older people with simple measures such as walking speed can be performed easily and that the role of fitness in preserving life and function in older age is important."

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