Heart disease, stroke or another form of cardiovascular disease claims the life of someone's wife, mother, daughter or sister every minute in the United States, according to statistics from the American Heart Association. Now a study shows that an inactive lifestyle outweighs other risk factors, such as obesity and smoking, for developing cardiovascular disease among women age 30 and older.
In the study, Australian researchers tracked the health of more than 30,000 women born in the 1920s, 1940s and 1970s. Findings showed that for women under the age of 30, smoking had the most significant impact on women's risk of heart disease. But as women got older, and kicked their nicotine habit, the biggest factor shifted to lack of exercise. According to a recent MedPage Today story:
The results highlight the fact that population attributable risks for heart disease appear to change throughout women's lives, the researchers concluded.
The study findings highlight the importance of emphasizing regular exercise for reducing cardiovascular disease risk, especially in young adulthood and middle age, the researchers said.
"Our data suggest that national programs for the promotion and maintenance of physical activity, across the adult lifespan, but especially in young adulthood, deserve to be a much higher public health priority for women than they are now," they wrote.
They estimated that "if every woman between the ages of 30 and 90 were able to reach the recommended weekly exercise quota -- 150 minutes of at least moderate intensity physical activity -- then the lives of more than 2,000 middle-age and older women could be saved each year in Australia alone."
Previously: Study shows many women have a limited knowledge of stroke warning signs, More evidence that prolonged inactivity may shorten life span, increase risk of chronic disease, Exercise is valuable in preventing sedentary death and Ask Stanford Med: Cardiologist Jennifer Tremmel responds to questions on women’s heart health
Photo by James Roberts