A simple test involving stairs can be used to determine how fit someone is, according to researchers.

A Spanish cardiologist said that climbing four flights of steps in less than a minute indicates a strong heart, which is important in keeping certain health conditions at bay.

Speaking at the EACVI – Best of Imaging 2020, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), Dr. Jesús Peteiro, from the University Hospital A Coruña, said: “The stairs test is an easy way to check your heart health. If it takes you more than one-and-a-half minutes to ascend four flights of stairs, your health is suboptimal, and it would be a good idea to consult a doctor.”

The concept was designed in a bid to investigate the relationship between daily activity and how it impacted someone’s health.

Dr Peteiro said: “The idea was to find a simple and inexpensive method of assessing heart health. This can help physicians triage patients for more extensive examinations.”

The trial involved 165 patients who had been referred for exercise testing because of known or suspected coronary artery disease.

They all had symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath, when they over-exerted themselves.

Each volunteer was asked to walk or run on a treadmill and they gradually increased the intensity of their activity until they reached the point of exhaustion. After a short rest they were then asked to take the stairs test without stopping, and their time was recorded.

The researchers also used the trial to assess the function of the heart while exercise is being carried out. They found that if the heart works normally during a physical activity then the risk of experiencing coronary artery disease is fairly low.

Applying these findings to their trial, the team said 58% of participants who managed to climb the stairs in more than 1.5 minutes had an abnormal heart function.

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