More steps improve CV risk factors, but effects vary by sex

August 06, 2022

2 min read

The study was funded by DeSC Healthcare. Hamaya reports receiving consultant fees from DeSC Healthcare. Please see study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

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Smartphone-recorded steps over 2 years were linked to positive changes in CVD risk factors but varied between men and women, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Rikuta Hamaya

“This is a well-powered observational study showing the value of smartphone-recorded steps,” Rikuta Hamaya, MD, MSc, from the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told Healio. “Although further research is needed, this study suggests a useful role of smartphone‐recorded steps for monitoring cardiovascular disease risk over the long term.”

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In an analysis of the Japanese national health checkup database, the Japanese government health insurance claims database and “kencom,” a commercial app database developed by DeSC Healthcare, 15,708 working-age adults in Japan were observed to see how 2-year changes in biomarkers of CVD risk were related to smartphone-recorded steps during that time. In total, 11,986 men and 3,722 women were studied.

In assessing for CVD risk, changes in weight, BMI, waist circumference, systolic BP, diastolic BP, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose and HbA1c over 2 years were the primary outcomes.

A baseline checkup that took place from April 2015 to November 2020 plus another checkup 24 to 35 months later were necessary to participate in this study.

Multivariate generalized additive models were used to find associations between steps and fluctuations in CVD risk factors. Researchers adjusted them for factors such as age, BMI, current smoking and alcohol consumption, and the use of lipid-lowering drugs, glucose-lowering drugs and antihypertensive drugs.

Men recorded a median of 6,674 steps per day over 2 years, whereas women had a median of 5,027 steps per day.

In terms of changes in weight or BMI, steps recorded were almost linearly and inversely related in men. Each additional 1,000 steps per day in men were linked to a loss of 0.33 kg (standard error [SE], 0.029) in weight. For women, an inverse relationship between the two was only evident when they recorded more than 5,000 steps per day (loss of 0.18 kg [SE, 0.054]).

No statistically significant changes in recorded BP were found in women; however, an additional 1,000 steps per day for men over 2 years was linked to a 0.33 (SE, 0.097) mm Hg decline in systolic BP and a 0.27 (SE, 0.07) mm Hg drop in diastolic BP.

For both men and women, an increased number of steps was related to positive changes in HDL and triglycerides (0.61 [SE, 0.068] and 3.4 [SE: 0.61] mg/dL in men; 0.64 [SE, 0.17] and 2.3 [SE, 0.67] mg/dL in women). LDL changes were only statistically significant in men (0.59 [SE, 0.17] mg/dL).

Changes in fasting plasma glucose were significantly and inversely related to 2-year steps for both men and women, but only women were shown to have a significant negative relation to HbA1c changes (0.012% [SE, 0.0043] changes per 1,000 steps per day).

“Long-term associations with daily steps and incident cardiovascular events are to be investigated,” Hamaya told Healio. “We expect more research based on smartphone-recorded steps would provide practical evidence regarding physical activity.”

For more information:

Rikuta Hamaya, MD, MSc, can be reached at rktrocky@gmail.com.

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