The goal of the scientists was to develop a quick and cheap method for assessing heart health. His result would help the doctor to understand which patients require an early additional examination to diagnose coronary heart disease (IHD). Scientists decided that the ability to perform routine activities.
“The rung test is an easy way to test your heart health. If it takes you more than a minute and a half to climb four flights, your health is suboptimal. [недостаточно хорошим]in this case, you should see a doctor, ”said Jesús Peteiro from the University Hospital of A Coruña.
Pain and shortness of breath with coronary artery disease
IHD is one of the most common diseases, affecting about 125 million people in the world. IHD develops when, as a result of atherosclerosis, the coronary arteries narrow (they supply blood to the heart muscle). Heart pain and shortness of breath occur when there is not enough blood and, therefore, oxygen in the heart.
In coronary artery disease, compressive pain is usually located behind the sternum. Pain and shortness of breath occur during exercise, when the heart muscle requires more oxygen. In severe forms of the disease, these symptoms may appear even at rest.
When blood flow in any branch of the coronary artery stops or becomes critically small, myocardial infarction develops. In this case, part of the heart muscle dies off. Chest pain during a heart attack does not go away for more than 20 minutes – this is a deadly condition.
How scientists evaluated stair walking
The study involved 165 people with symptoms of coronary heart disease (CHD): they periodically had chest pain or shortness of breath during exercise.
Participants were tested on a treadmill with a gradual increase in load. Then, after resting, they had to quickly and without stopping climb the stairs (four flights or 60 steps), but not break into a run.
Scientists measured how much energy study participants spent when doing exercise. To assess it, they used special units – metabolic equivalents (ME, they compare the amount of oxygen and energy that a person spends at rest and during activity).
People who climbed four flights for 40-45 seconds had the best energy expenditure: they spent 9-10 ME. It was previously known that the ability to expend this amount of energy during exercise is associated with a 10% reduction in the risk of death over the next 10%.
People who spent more than 1.5 minutes climbing the stairs spent less than 8 ME. According to previous studies, this indicates an increase in the risk of death in the next 10 years by 30%.
During tests on a treadmill, scientists took pictures of the participants’ hearts, which reflect its functional state. They then correlated this data with how the participants climbed the stairs.
Nearly 60% of people who took more than one and a half minutes to climb stairs had heart scans showing pathology. Among those who climbed the stairs quickly, less than a third of them had heart disease. Based on this, the scientists concluded that climbing stairs may serve as the primary test for identifying people with heart problems.