American women still do not fully graspthe high risk of heart disease that they faceand are confused by reports that suggest thatbeing overweight and sedentary really arenot that bad, the American Heart Association(AHA) said in a statement released inFebruary 2006. The statement also said that483,800 women in the United States diedfrom heart disease and stroke in 2003, 6 millionwomen had coronary heart disease, and3.1 million women had strokes. The statementwas published in a special issue ofCirculation.
The AHA stated that, in spite of these numbers,only 55% of the 1008 women who tookpart in a survey knew that heart disease wasthe number-1 killer of US women over age25—claiming more lives than the 5 runnersup(cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonarydisease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, andaccidents) combined.
The association also stated that manywomen fail to realize the importance ofexercise and weight loss. A study of 88,393women, aged 34 to 59, found that thosewho were obese and sedentary were 3.4times more likely to have heart diseasethan women who were lean and exercisedregularly. Active, obese women were still2.48 times—and lean but inactive women1.5 times—more likely to have heart disease.According to the researchers, thesefindings reinforce the idea that both exerciseand weight loss are key to preventingheart disease, not just one or the other, assome women think.