Harvard Heart Letter

Research we're watching: Taking steps to avoid heart disease



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For people at high risk of diabetes who also have (or are prone to) heart disease, a daily walk may lower their risk of cardiovascular events, according to a study in The Lancet.

The findings are based on data from 9,306 people who took part in a larger study to evaluate two medications. Participants were required to follow a low-fat diet, get regular exercise, and track their steps with a pedometer at the beginning of the study (the baseline) and after one year.

Every additional 2,000 steps (about one mile or about 20 minutes of walking) in a person's baseline measurement was linked to a 10% lower risk of having a heart attack, having a stroke, or dying of heart disease over the following six years. Every additional 2,000 steps added by the time of the second measurement was associated with an extra 8% lower risk. The benefits were seen regardless of a person's weight or starting fitness level.

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