Exercise Affects Men’s, Women’s Hearts Differently

Allison’s group found that although peak heart rate declines with age for both sexes, the rate declines more gradually in women. This difference results in an overestimated peak heart rate in younger women and underestimated peak heart rate in older women, the researchers said.

Cooking with Kathy Man

The formula doctors use to evaluate treadmill stress tests, and thereby assess heart health, doesn’t account for important differences between men and women, a new study contends.

A revised formula would better determine peak exercise rate, or the maximum number of heart beats per minute, for each sex, the researchers said.

“Exercise physiology has been known to differ for men and women of different ages,” said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, associate chief of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and spokesman for the American Heart Association.

The proposal for a sex-specific maximal heart rate warrants further research, he said. “This may represent a valuable improvement for guiding exercise stress testing,” added Fonarow, who was not involved in the study.

Doctors now use the formula “220 minus age” to determine how hard patients should work out during exercise stress tests. Many people also use this formula to set their target…

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