THE HEART OF THE MATTER
a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA) 

Week: 537.3 Guest: Dr. Rozenn Lemaitre, Cardiovascular Researcher, Univ. Of Washington Topic: Reducing Risk of Heart attacks in post-menopausal women Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: Did you know that recent studies have shown that up 59 percent of women say they don't exercise or engage in any physical activity? Of course, that can't be very good, and a new study shows that post- menopausal women stand to benefit greatly from tapping into some kind of activity...in order to lower their risk of heart attack. A recent Gallup poll showed most women, and a third of doctors didn't know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women as well as men. We're with Dr. Rozenn Lemaitre (Le-met), a cardiovascular researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, whose study looked into the fact that post menopausal women develop a higher risk of heart attack, and tried to find what factors may lower that risk.....

LEMAITRE: What we did was we compared 268 women who had had heart attacks, to 925 women who were healthy, who did not have any heart disease. And we asked these women about their participation in physical activity during their leisure time. And we compared the amount of time spent in each activity for the women who had had a heart attack and those that did not. And all these women belonged to the Group Health Cooperative of Puegot Sound, this is a health maintenance in the greater Seattle area. And, for that reason, we also could also get access to their medical records, in other words, we know that the results we saw is not due to a difference in smoking, for example, between the women who had a heart attack and those who did not.

NEMA: Was there a level of activity that seemed to make a big difference in the heart health of these women?

LEMAITRE: The women in our study all did pretty moderate level of activities...very few of them did strenuous activities. So, we cannot say much about strenuous activity, all we can say is that moderate levels of activity was beneficial. And for example, what we mean by moderate levels would be something like walking for exercise....30 to 45 minutes each time, three times a week.

NEMA: So, what were the results of the study....?

LEMAITRE: What we found in our study is that these kind of moderate levels of physical activity were associated with a 50% decrease in the risk of heart attack...

NEMA: That's a big decrease!....

LEMAITRE: Yes, true...its a big decrease....right....it surprised us as well...how beneficial it might be. You know....in every study which is done, the way we did it, what we call an observational study, we cannot control everything, one thing that comes to mind is...we did not do a dietary survey, and so, if diet was part of it, we cannot tease out what part that

NEMA: While women seem less affected by heart disease and heart attacks before menopause than men of comparable age, after menopause, things change...and a woman's risk rises. This study seems to show that adding moderate exercise to the mix helps make up for the loss of estrogen...and lower the risk of heart attack. Thanks to Dr. Rozenn Lemaitre of the University of Washington. I'm Steve Girard.