The American Heart Association (AHA) estimate that every year the condition kills 400,000 women — approximately the same number of females who die from cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, and diabetes put together.
A new study that researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, have conducted found that more than half of women with cardiovascular disease continue not to exercise enough, and the number has increased over the past decade.
The results of the study appear in the journal JAMA Network Open.
The study suggests that more ne to be done to improve physical activity among women with cardiovascular disease who would benefit from increasing their exercise levels — to ensure they experience optimal heart health.
“Physical activity is a known, cost-effective prevention strategy for women with and without cardiovascular disease, and our study shows worsening health and financial trends over time among women with cardiovascular disease who don’t get enough physical activity,” says Victor Okunrintemi, internal medicine resident at East Carolina University, and author on the study.
The AHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have similar physical activity guidelines. They recommend that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week or 30 to 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.
Assessing changes in trends over the years
The researchers used data from a 2006–2015 questionnaire by the U.S. Agency for Health Care Research and Quality’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which included more than 18,000 women of different races (non-Hispanic white, Asian, African American, and Hispanic) with cardiovascular disease.
The research team looked at the answers collected in 2006–2007 and then compared them with those from 2014–2015.
They found that the number of women with cardiovascular disease not meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines increased from 2006 to 2015, rising from 58% to nearly 62%. They also found trends related to age, race, and socioeconomic factors.
Expenditure was around $12,700 in 2006–2007 and $14,800 in 2014–2015. In comparison, women with cardiovascular disease who did exercise enough spent about $8,800 in 2006–2007 and $10,500 in 2014–2015.
The researchers explained that the study was not focused on cause/effect, but it aimed at identifying 10-year trends in the levels of physical activity among U.S. women, considering variables such as age, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic factors.
“Many high-risk women need encouragement to get more physically active in hopes of living healthier lives while reducing their health care costs,” says Erin Michos, lead author of the study and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The researchers concluded that healthcare providers need to encourage vulnerable groups, such as older women, women with lower socioeconomic status, and those from minority groups to follow physical activity guidelines.
Also, they say there is a need for additional support for doctors to enable them to support their heart patients to do more heart-heathly exercise, and to share tips to make their activity tasks easier and more enjoyable.