Is Prolonged Sitting Bad For Your Heart?

Millions of people sit for prolonged hours both at work and at home. For some, there is no choice because of the type of job they do. But there are others who get into the habit of sitting in one place for prolonged hours simply because they are watching TV or are browsing the Internet.

It has always been suspected that prolonged sitting is not good for health. There is ample evidence from annual health physicals showing that this habit can lead to back and buttock pain, diabetes, weight gain and joint pain. To top it all, once these conditions develop, they continue to be a problem even if the individual in question begins to exercise.

Prolonged sitting can also lead to damage to your heart muscles. Over the years, anecdotal reports have appeared indicating that people who sit for more than 9 hours a day are prone to heart failure, a condition where the heart muscle progressively becomes weaker and is unable to pump oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. But the question that has never been answered is how an innocuous activity like sitting can cause heart damage.

Recently some heart doctors started to look at the heart in a little more detail with a specific focus on troponins. Troponins are proteins that make up the structure of the heart muscle fibers. When the heart is damaged or injured, troponins are released into the bloodstream.

Troponin levels are monitored regularly in the emergency room to determine if the patient is having a heart attack. In normal people, there are no troponins in the blood circulation. Therefore, even if low levels are found, it is a cause for concern because it indicates that the heart may have suffered some kind of damage. If this damage is not stopped, the heart muscle can die which could lead to heart failure.

In the past, no researcher had ever considered looking at the levels of troponins in people who sat for prolonged hours. But new findings published in the journal Circulation show that people who sat for prolonged hours had high levels of troponin in the blood. The level of troponin was highest in people who were stationary for more than 10 hours.

In people who exercised, the levels of troponin were normal. The levels of troponin in people who sat for prolonged hours were not high enough to indicate a heart attack but still worrisome as there was a risk of heart damage. The researchers observed this increase in troponin in both genders.

While this still does not explain the exact mechanism of how sitting damages the heart muscle, it is important to know that heart muscle damage can occur if we develop the habit of prolonged sitting. The bottom line is that people who sit for prolonged hours should become more active and should engage in some kind of activity every few hours to avoid any adverse heart problems in the future.

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