Morning exercise, short breaks from sitting lower high blood pressure

Combining 30 minutes of morning exercise with short walking breaks throughout the day may help control blood pressure, an Australian study in the journal Hypertension suggests.

Adding three-minute walking breaks to disrupt prolonged periods of sitting benefited older, overweight or obese women in particular.

"Prolonged sitting is a common behaviour in modern society with commuting, work and domestic settings that prompt us to sit," said lead study author Michael Wheeler of the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

Recent studies have shown that extended sitting during the day can increase blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease.

"Older adults, in particular, can accumulate lots of sitting throughout the day, with upwards of two-thirds of their day devoted to sedentary behaviours," he said. - REUTERS

Climate change could raise risk of congenital heart defects

More babies could be born with heart defects in the future as global warming puts pregnant women at greater risk of exposure to dangerously high temperatures, new research suggests.

The study is preliminary, and the potential impact of climate change on congenital heart disease is far from clear, the researchers say. But earlier work has suggested that expectant mothers who are exposed to extreme heat in the spring or summer, particularly in early pregnancy, are more likely to deliver babies with heart defects.

At present, congenital heart defects affect about 40,000 births per year. Their study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, suggests there may be as many as 7,000 additional cases over an 11-year period. - REUTERS