Want to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease? Move!

woman walking outdoors sports

For women over 30, physical inactivity may be the single greatest contributor to heart disease risk.

The Evidence: Researchers followed 32,154 Australian women in three age groups: those born between 1973-78, 1946-51, and 1921-26. They the applied a math formula called population attributable risk (P.A.R.) that indicates the percentage reduction in diseases that would be achieved in a given population if exposure to a specific risk were eliminated.

The importance of the most common risk factors for heart disease – smoking, high blood pressure, physical activity, and excess weight – varies with age.

  • For the population under 30, smoking is the greatest contributor to heart disease. In fact, stopping smoking would reduce the risk of heart disease in this group twice as effectively as reducing high body mass index.
  • For women in their 70s, being physically active would lower the P.A.R. almost three times as much as stopping smoking, and significantly more than reducing blood pressure or achieving a healthy body weight.

My Take: This is just one more reminder that women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s get moving. Aim for a minimum of the equivalent of a brisk walk for 30 minutes, 5 times per week. And if you are moving, move more. 

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad: Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: New York Times 13 May 2014 (derived from online publication of the British Journal of Sports Medicine).

 

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