A recent study published in The American Journal of Cardiology found that the exercise treadmill test (ETT), is able to accurately detect indicators of future heart disease in women older than 65. Not only is the ETT accurate, but it is also less costly than other cardiac awareness tests.
“Newer cardiac imaging technologies are more accurate in identifying the presence of heart disease, but those tests are considerably more expensive than ETT and in many cases unnecessary,” said study author Ezra Amsterdam, M.D. “Our study found that the test is a very valuable tool for identifying coronary artery disease in women older than 65, and that it can be used to help select those who may require higher-tech diagnostics.”
In an EET, a patient will exercise on a treadmill that gradually goes faster while his or her blood pressure and the electrical activity in the individual’s heart is monitored. While EETs do not provide significant insight into possible heart conditions, it can indicate that further testing should be done, such as a coronary angiography, which allows physicians to see if patients’ blood vessels are blocked or significantly narrowed.
The study looked at 111 women who had taken the treadmill test after they had complained to their doctors of chest pain and who had subsequently undergone a coronary angiography examination. The results showed that only half of the subjects had a cardiovascular condition as accurately predicted by the EET, but upon further analysis, the investigators found that the EET’s accuracy rose with the patients’ ages. In the subjects who were 35 to 50 years old, the EET was correct only 36 percent of the time, but that number rose to 68 percent in the subjects who were 65 and older.
Amsterdam noted that the study has allowed physicians to see how EETs can be used reliably and it also correlates with the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology’s recommendations that the treadmill test be a preliminary measure.
Heart disease in women
According to the National Institutes of Health, heart disease causes the most fatalities in women in the United States, and it’s the number one contributor to disability among women. Heart disease usually occurs through arteries becoming blocked, which can lead to heart attacks, stroke and death. With increased age in women comes an increasing risk of developing a heart condition.
Exercise and diet can play a role in warding off heart disease. Patients should eat a plethora of fruits and vegetables while minimizing fatty and high-cholesterol foods. The University of Maryland also notes that omega-3 fatty acids can bolster heart health by lowering blood pressure and raising HDL, or “good” cholesterol. People can get omega-3s from chia seeds, hemp milk or an Omegakrill supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals.