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Heart Facts – did you know?

Heart muscle shrinks by an average 0.3?g per year from middle age, affecting its ability to pump blood through your body. Using MRI scans of men and women aged 45 to 85, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. found that with every year it takes longer for the heart muscles to squeeze and relax, by around 2 to 5?%, while the actual amount of blood pumped out of the heart falls by 9 millilitres a year.

This can cause blood pressure to rise. High blood pressure can cause the heart muscles to thicken as they struggle to pump against increasing resistance. ‘A heart enlarged through hypertension will have a poor blood supply and may become fibrotic and prone to failure,’ says Graham Jackson, consultant cardiologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, London.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF: Like all muscles, the heart becomes stronger and less likely to shrink if it  is exercised. ‘Dynamic or aerobic activities that benefit the heart include walking, climbing stairs, gardening, vigorous housework, dancing or using home or gym exercise equipment,’ says Mr Jackson.‘You don’t have to be an athelete just a good 40-minute walk five times a week is enough to make a difference.’

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