Women Still Neglecting Their Hearts

Published Online: Wednesday, March 1, 2006

American women still do not fully grasp the high risk of heart disease that they face and are confused by reports that suggest that being overweight and sedentary really are not that bad, the American Heart Association (AHA) said in a statement released in February 2006. The statement also said that 483,800 women in the United States died from heart disease and stroke in 2003, 6 million women had coronary heart disease, and 3.1 million women had strokes. The statement was published in a special issue of Circulation.

The AHA stated that, in spite of these numbers, only 55% of the 1008 women who took part in a survey knew that heart disease was the number-1 killer of US women over age 25—claiming more lives than the 5 runnersup (cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and accidents) combined.

The association also stated that many women fail to realize the importance of exercise and weight loss. A study of 88,393 women, aged 34 to 59, found that those who were obese and sedentary were 3.4 times more likely to have heart disease than women who were lean and exercised regularly. Active, obese women were still 2.48 times—and lean but inactive women 1.5 times—more likely to have heart disease. According to the researchers, these findings reinforce the idea that both exercise and weight loss are key to preventing heart disease, not just one or the other, as some women think.

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