Women active a few times weekly have lower risk of heart disease, stroke and blood clots

American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report

February 16, 2015 Categories: Heart News, Stroke News

Study Highlights

  • Middle-aged women physically active a few times per week have lower risks of heart disease, stroke and blood clots than inactive women.
  • More frequent physical activity does not appear to lower the risks further.

Embargoed until 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET Monday, Feb. 16, 2015

DALLAS, Feb. 16, 2015 — Middle-aged women who are physically active a few times per week have lower risks of heart disease, stroke and blood clots than inactive women, according to research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. Surprisingly, more frequent physical activity didn’t result in further reductions in risk, researchers said.

     In the study:

  • Women who performed strenuous physical activity— enough to cause sweating or a faster heart beat — two to three times per week were about 20 percent less likely to develop heart disease, strokes or blood clots compared to participants who reported little or no activity.

  • Among active women, there was little evidence of further risk reductions with more frequent activity.

Physical activities associated with reduced risk included walking, gardening, and cycling.

“Inactive middle-aged women should try to do some activity regularly,” said Miranda Armstrong, M.Phil., Ph.D, the study’s lead author and a physical activity epidemiologist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. “However, to prevent heart disease, stroke and blood clots, our results suggest that women don’t need to do very frequent activity as this seems to provide little additional benefit above that from moderately frequent activity.”

Participants included 1.1 million women in the United Kingdom with no history of cancer, heart disease, stroke, blood clots, or diabetes who joined the Million Women study in 1996-2001. Their average age when they joined the study was 56.

The women reported their level of physical activity at the beginning of the study and three years later. Researchers then examined hospital admissions and deaths in relation to participants’ responses. Follow-up was, on average, nine years.

Co-authors of the study are Jane Green, B.M.B.Ch., D.Phil.; Gillian K. Reeves, M.Sc., Ph.D.; Valerie Beral, D.B.E., A.C., F.R.S.; and Benjamin J. Cairns, Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The UK Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK and the BHF Centre of Research Excellence in Oxford funded the study.

Additional Resources:

###

Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association’s policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

For Media Inquiries: (214) 706-1173

Carrie Thacker (214) 706-1665; carrie.thacker@heart.org

Julie Del Barto (broadcast): (214) 706-1330; julie.delbarto@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: (800)-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and strokeassociation.org

Life is why we fund scientific breakthroughs that save and improve lives.