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A new New Year's reason to work out: Exercise improves three measures of heart protection

BETHESDA, Md. (Jan. 20, 2005) For decades, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was prescribed for postmenopausal women to protect them from cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, results from the Women's Health Initiative questioned its effectiveness, which has led to more caution in prescribing and using HRT for this purpose.

So, are there other ways women can decrease their risk of heart disease? Yes and new evidence shows that exercise may be the easiest.

According to a new study, women who are more physically fit have better blood clotting profiles than women who are unfit. These positive results were evident in three different measures of the hemostatic (blood clotting) system that have previously been linked to heart attacks.

Lead author Linda Szymanski explains: "Everyone benefits from being physically fit, regardless of whether they are on HRT or not. This is particularly good news for women who are either unwilling or unable to take HRT because they can gain cardioprotective benefits by becoming physically fit. You want as many reasons as you can to get people out there to exercise.

"In our study, fitness provided benefits that are not as obvious and are not usually measured by doctors or health clubs, unlike cholesterol, blood pressure, or body weight."

Szymanski got the idea for this study because "We all know exercise is linked with reduced heart attacks. Everyone says this is because exercise lowers your cholesterol, etc., but the bottom line is it's usually a blood clot that causes a heart attack." The researchers thought exercise must have other benefits and so they tested blood-clotting variables, including clotting and fibrinolysis the ability to prevent or break up blood clots.

The study, "Relationship of physical fitness, hormone replacement therapy and hemostatic risk factors in postmenopausal women," was conducted by Linda M. Szymanski, Craig M. Kessler and Bo Fernhall. The research appe
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20-Jan-2005


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