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Cardiovascular health – What you should know


According to research presented at the scientific congress of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging held recently, climbing four flights of stairs in less than a minute indicates good heart health.



As reported by, the study included 165 symptomatic patients referred for exercise testing because of known or suspected coronary artery disease.



“Participants walked or ran on a treadmill, gradually increasing the intensity, and continuing until exhaustion. Exercise capacity was measured as metabolic equivalents (M ETs)

“After resting for 15 to 20 minutes, patients were asked to climb four flights of stairs at a fast pace without stopping, but also without running, and the time was recorded,” the scientists wrote.


They analysed the relationship between METs achieved during exercise testing and the time it took to climb four flights of stairs. Patients who climbed the stairs in less than 40-45 seconds achieved more than 9-10 METs. Previous studies have shown that 10 METs during an exercise test is linked with a low mortality rate. In contrast, patients who took 1.5 minutes or longer to climb the stairs achieved less than eight METs, which translates to a mortality rate of two to four per cent per year, or 30 per cent in 10 years.



The study author, Dr. Jesús Peteiro, who is a cardiologist at the University Hospital A Coruña, Spain, 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.”



“This study was conducted to examine the relationship between a daily activity – i.e. climbing stairs – and the results obtained from exercise testing in a laboratory. The idea was to find a simple and inexpensive method of assessing heart health. This can help physicians triage patients for more extensive examinations.”

Peteiro noted that the correlation between the stairs time and exercise capacity would be similar in the general population. But the corresponding mortality rates and heart function by imaging would be more favourable than for patients with symptoms and suspected or confirmed coronary artery disease.




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