A new study shows fitness may be more important at reducing a woman's risk for heart disease than being overweight or obese. Previous research has not been clear on the risks of coronary heart disease and obesity and fitness level. The obesity studies have failed to look at fitness levels of the participants. Researchers from the University of Florida looked at the relationship between physical fitness and obesity with heart disease risk.
The study included 936 women from four academic medical centers. The women had a coronary angiography and were followed for about four years. The women also underwent tests including measures of obesity and physical fitness scores. 76 percent of the women were overweight, 70 percent had very little physical activity, and 39 percent had obstructive coronary artery disease. During the follow-up period, 38 percent had a heart problem, 13 percent had a major heart attack, and 8 percent died.
When researchers looked at the women who had heart problems, they found overweight women were more likely than normal-weight women to have heart disease risk factors. However, they say obesity measures such as body mass index were not significant factors associated with a heart problem. But they say a lower physical fitness level was associated with a higher risk of a heart problem.
Thus researchers conclude saying that fitness may be more important than being overweight or obese for a woman's risk for heart problems and they also add that an evaluation of a woman's physical fitness level can be done with a simple questionnaire and should be included in the management of women with heart disease.