HealthDay News – For adult female patients aged 30 years and over, the highest population-attributable risk (PAR) for heart disease is physical inactivity, according to new research.

“From about age 30, the population risk of heart disease attributable to inactivity outweighs that of other risk factors, including high BMI,” wrote Wendy J. Brown, PhD, and researchers in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

To examine the PAR of heart disease for high BMI, smoking, hypertension, and physical inactivity across the adult lifespan, researchers collected data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health for patients in 15 age groups ranging from 22 to 27 years (9,608 patients) to 85 to 90 years (3,901 patients).

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Relative risks (RRs) and prevalence estimates varied across the lifespan. The RRs ranged from 1.20 for high BMI and hypertension in older patients to 6.15 for smoking in younger patients. Risk exposure prevalence varied from 2% for hypertension in younger patients to 79% for high BMI in middle-aged patients.

The highest population risk was attributed to smoking for young adult patients up to age 30 years, whereas for patients aged 31 to 90 years, the highest PARs were for physical inactivity.

“Programs for the promotion and maintenance of physical activity deserve to be a much higher public health priority for women than they are now, across the adult lifespan,” wrote the researchers.


  1. Brown W et al. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2014; doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-093090.