Climbing stairs boosts vascular function in patient with hypertension

14 Oct 2021
Walking or taking the stairs are both effective to burn excess calories

Climbing stairs is a simple method of assessing physical activity in patients with hypertension and may lead to improved vascular function, a recent study has found.

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of 374 hypertensive patients (mean age 67±12 years, 62.6 percent men) who were divided into three groups according to their stair-climbing activity: no stairs (n=78), climbing to the 2nd floor (n=107), and climbing to the ≥3rd floor (n=189). Vascular function was assessed using flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) and nitroglycerine-induced vasodilation (NID).

FMD was significantly higher in participants who climbed stairs to the ≥3rd floor than in comparators who reached only the 2nd floor and who reported no stair-climbing activity (3.3±2.5 percent vs 2.4±2.7 percent and 2.3±2.7 percent, respectively; p=0.02 for both comparisons).

In comparison, NID was significantly higher in both the 2nd- and ≥3rd-floor groups as opposed to the no-stairs comparators (10.9±5.3 percent vs 11.3±5.1 percent vs 7.4±4.2 percent, respectively; p<0.001 for both comparisons). The difference between patients who climbed to the 2nd vs ≥3rd floors was not statistically significant (p=0.86).

Multivariate analysis further showed that patients who climbed to the ≥3rd floor were significantly less likely to belong to the lowest tertile of FMD values (odds ratio [OR], 0.44, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.23–0.75; p=0.01). No such effect was reported for the 2nd-floor group (p=0.86).

On the other hand, both the 2nd-floor (OR, 0.28, 95 percent CI, 0.13–0.57; p<0.001) and ≥3rd-floor (OR, 0.42, 95 percent CI, 0.21–0.81; p=0.01) climbers saw significant protection from having the lowest tertile of NID vs the reference group.

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