Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Exercise and cardiac arrest

Heart Beat

Exercise and cardiac arrest

Women: Don't skip exercising because you're worried that your heart will slip into a potentially deadly rhythm and stop beating while you are out walking, jogging, or whatever. The chances of this happening are slim. Data from the ongoing Nurses' Health Study indicate that for every 36 million woman-hours of moderate to vigorous exercise, just one woman has a sudden cardiac arrest. The rates for men are significantly higher.

Women, like men, are more likely to have a sudden cardiac arrest when they are exercising than when they are sitting. That said, women who exercise regularly are less likely to ever have a cardiac arrest than nonexercisers. And in this study, as in so many others, the exercisers were less likely to die prematurely of any cause than were their more sedentary counterparts. The results appeared in the March 22/29, 2006 Journal of the American Medical Association.

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