Health.-Women Who Are Able To Exercise Intensely Have a Lower Risk Of Dying From Heart Disease Or Cancer.


Women who are able to exercise intensely have a significantly lower risk of dying from heart disease, cancer and other causes, as evidenced by research led by the doctor of the University Hospital Complex of A Coruña (CHUAC) and researcher at CIBERCV, Jesús Peteiro, and which has recently been presented at ‘EuroEcho 2019’, the congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

At work, exercise capacity and cardiac function during exercise and its associations with survival have been examined in 4,714 adult women who underwent a treadmill echocardiogram for evaluation of known or suspected coronary heart disease.


“The participants walked or ran on the treadmill, with gradual increases in intensity, and continued until exhaustion, obtaining images of the heart during the effort,” explained the expert. The study defined fitness as a maximum workload of 10 metabolic equivalents (METs), which is similar to fast climbing 4 floors of stairs or very fast 3 floors, without stopping. Women who reached 10 METs or more (good exercise capacity) were compared with those who reached less than 10 METs.

During an average follow-up of 4.6 years there were 345 cardiovascular deaths, 164 due to cancer, and 203 due to other causes. After adjusting for factors that could influence the association, METs were found to be significantly associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other causes.

In this sense, annualized deaths due to cardiac causes were almost four times higher in women with poor exercise capacity (2.2%) compared to good exercise capacity (0.6%). In addition, annualized cancer deaths were double in women with poor (0.9%) compared to good exercise capacity (0.4%); and deaths from other causes were more than four times higher in women with poor functional capacity (1.4%), compared to those with good exercise capacity (0.3%).

The average age of the women participating in the study was 64 years and 80 percent were between 50 and 75. “The results were similar for women over 60 and under 60, although the group under 50 was scarce, “said Dr. Peteiro.

Regarding the cardiac image, the researchers measured the function of the left ventricle during the exercise test. Thus, they found that patients with poor cardiac function during exercise had a higher probability of cardiovascular death during follow-up, although cardiac function during exercise did not predict the probability of death from cancer or other causes.

“Looking at both variables, women with normal cardiac function during exercise are unlikely to have a cardiovascular event. But if their functional capacity is poor they are still at greater risk of death from cancer or other causes. The best scenario is to have both: function normal heart during exercise and good exercise capacity, “the researcher has settled.