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Flexibility Might Help Determine Arterial Health November 6, 2009

For more information, contact Erica Cline at 706/828-2397.

Flexibility Might Help Determine Arterial Health

(AUGUSTA, GA. – Nov. 6, 2009) How far you can reach beyond your toes from a sitting position – normally used to define the flexibility of a person's body – may be an indicator of how stiff your arteries are.

A study in the American Journal of Physiology has found that, among people 40 years old and older, performance on the sit-and-reach test could be used to assess the flexibility of the arteries. Because arterial stiffness often precedes cardiovascular disease, the results suggest that this simple test could become a quick measure of an individual's risk for early mortality from heart attack or stroke.

Healthy blood vessels are elastic, and elasticity helps to moderate blood pressure. Arterial stiffness increases with age and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and death. Previous studies have established that physical fitness can delay age-related arterial stiffness, although exactly how that happens is not understood. The authors noted that people who keep themselves in shape often have a more flexible body, and they hypothesized that a flexible body could be a quick way to determine arterial flexibility

Houman Tamaddon, M.D., a vascular surgeon and Medical Director of University Hospital’s Peripheral Vascular Lab, said flexibility is an important part of overall health.

“Keeping your body flexible is actually more important than keeping your arteries flexible,” he said. “The reason for that is that it promotes general cardiovascular health. If you’re more flexible, it means you’re more active and if you’re more active, then your cardiovascular system is working more efficiently.”

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