More than half of women in the United states with heart disease aren't getting enough physical activity, and that number has increased over the past decade, a study says. In Kentucky, 4.9% of women reported they had been told by a health care provider that they had heart disease, compared to 3.2% of women nationwide, according to America's Health Rankings.
"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," Dr. Victor Okunrintemi, the lead researcher, said in a news release. "We have more reason than ever to encourage women with cardiovascular disease to move more."
Okunrintemi is a former Johns Hopkins Medicine research fellow who is now an internal medicine resident at East Carolina University. His study, published online in JAMA Network Open, used data from a national survey representing more than 18 million U.S. women with established heart disease. The researchers compared data from 2006-2007 against data collected in 2014-15.
The study found that in 2006, 58% of women with heart disease said they were not meeting the American Heart Association physical activity guidelines. By 2015, the number was 61%.
AHA recommends 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week, or about 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
The researchers also found that women between the ages of 40 and 64 were the fastest-growing age group not getting enough exercise, with 60% of them not getting enough exercise in 2014-15; that was a significant increase from the 53 percent reported in 2006-07.
They also found trends related to race and socioeconomic factors, with African American, Hispanic, and women with low-income levels and low education more likely to not get enough exercise.
It also found that the health care costs of women with heart disease who met the AHA physical activity guidelines were about 30% less, compared to those who did not meet the guidelines.
Costs for women in the study who did not exercise enough was $12,724 in 2006-07 and $14,820 in 2014-15. Women in the study who exercised the recommended amount spent $8,811 in 2006-07 and $10,504 in 2014-15.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in American women, claiming over 400,000 lives each year, or one death every 80 seconds. It kills about the same number of women as all forms of cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease and diabetes combine, according to AHA.
Women with heart disease should talk to their provider about how to increase their physical activity, as a proven way to improve their health and to decrease their healthcare costs, the researchers say.