Exercise may protect women from irregular heartbeat

Exercise may protect women from irregular heartbeat

  • Healthy living is a life style and it includes being informed on the latest health news so you can take steps to living a long, healthy life.
  • According to Mayo Clinic, “Heart rhythm problems (heart arrhythmias) occur when the electrical impulses that coordinate your heartbeats don’t work properly, causing your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly.” Some heart arrhythmias are harmless, but sometimes, they can be symptoms of a serious underlying condition.
  • Medline Plus reports that atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia.
  • Increasing the amount or intensity of physical activity can cut decrease the risk of older women developing an irregular heartbeat that is potentially life threatening, according to research from the American Heart Association.
  • The research team found that post-menopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, who exercised the most had a 10 percent decreased risk of developing atrial fibrillation than those with low physical activity levels, even if they were obese. Obesity is considered a major risk factor for atrial fibrillation.
  • We found the more physically active the women were, the less likely it was that they would develop atrial fibrillation,” explained Marco V. Perez, M.D., lead author of the study and independent instructor in cardiovascular medicine and director of the Inherited Arrhythmia Clinic at the Stanford University School of Medicine, in Stanford, Calif. “Also, the more obese the women were, the more they benefited from having greater degrees of physical activity,” Perez added.
  • First, over 81,000 post-menopausal women ages 50-79 were asked how frequently they took walks outdoors for more than 10 minutes or how often they engaged in physical activity that made them sweat.
  • After an 11-year period, the research team found the following:
  1. The most physically active women (those who expended more than9 MET hours per week) had a 10 percent lower risk of developing AF compared to those who didn’t walk outside for 10 minutes at least once each week. (MET is a measurement of how much energy is used during physical activity. 9 MET hours per week would be the approximate equivalent of walking briskly for 30 minutes six days a week, or bicycling at a leisurely pace for an hour twice a week.)
  2. Moderately physically active women (those with less than 3 MET hours per week) had at least a 6 percent lower risk of developing AF. Walking briskly for 30 minutes twice a week would provide this benefit.
  3. Women who engaged in strenuous physical activity for more than 15 MET hours per week also had a 9 percent lower risk of developing AF. This was the equivalent of running two hours a week.
  • Previous research has suggested that strenuous physical activity may increase the risk of AF, but “there shouldn’t be concerns about these degrees of exercise and AF in older women,” Perez stated. The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
  • We encourage you to take a healthy living step and engage in physical activity more often. Your heart will thank you.

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