American Heart Association Names Best, Worst Heart Healthy Cities for Women

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Minneapolis-St. Paul is the best and Nashville, Tenn. is the worst when it comes to women’s heart health, according to a study released this morning by the American Heart Association.

The study, conducted for the association by Sperling’s Best Places, found that Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston and Phoenix have the lowest female cardiac mortality rates in the country, while Detroit, Nashville and St. Louis reported the highest.

The study was conducted as part of the heart association’s public informational campaign, Go Red for Women. The campaign seeks to raise awareness on heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women, and offers tips on how women can fight the disease.

Heart-friendly cities were those that had the lowest cardiac mortality rates for women, low hypertension rates and highest exercise rates.

The cities determined to the be the least heart-friendly had high rates of obesity, smoking and were not conducive to walking, said Dr. Jennifer H. Mieres, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine.

Mieres, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Society, said the new study shows the need for both cities and women to work together to battle heart disease.

“These women need to realize that even small steps can be very effective in preventing heart disease,” she said. “There’s a conception that you need to join a gym in order to workout and eat a bland diet, and that’s just not true.”

Mieres said cities can help by partnering with the media on fitness and nutritional campaigns. Cities can also work to make their communities more favorable for walking and by encouraging restaurants to inform women of heart-friendly choices on their menus. She said the decision by New York City, No. 13 on the heart-friendly list, to have fast food restaurants list calories on their menus is a step in the right direction.

“I’m a great supporter of the city’s decision to do this,” she said. “For me, just like every busy New York City woman who is coming close to menopause, it makes sustaining a heart healthy diet easier. You can still go out to eat, but something like this makes it clear that in some cases you may need to ask for half the portion. I think all cities should do this.”

Women themselves can achieve heart health by adding moderate exercise to their daily routines, such as walking, and by choosing lower calorie or heart healthy selections when eating out, Mieres added.

Fast Facts from the Heart Association’s Study:

— Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston and Phoenix reported the lowest female cardiac mortality rates in the country; Detroit, Nashville and St. Louis reported the highest.

— San Francisco, Denver and Los Angeles were the thinnest mega metros; Cleveland, San Antonio and Columbus were among the most overweight.

— Washington, D.C., reported the lowest stress ratings of all the mega metros while Portland, Ore. reported the highest stress levels in the category.

— Generally, California and Colorado cities scored well in the study; while many cities in the South and Midwest scored among the worst.

Top 10 Heart-Friendly Cities

1. Minneapolis—St. Paul-Bloomington

2. Washington D.C.—Arlington, Va.—Alexandria, W.Va.

3. San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland, Calif.

4. Denver—Aurora, Colorado

5. Boston—Cambridge—Quincy, Mass.

6. Seattle—Tacoma—Bellevue, Wash.

7. Portland—Vancouver—Beaverton, Ore.-Wash.

8. San Diego—Carlsbad—San Marcos, Calif.

9. Los Angeles—Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif.

10. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.

Bottom 10, Least Friendly Cities

1. Nashville-Davidson—Murfreesboro, Tenn.

2. St. Louis, Mo.

3. Detroit—Warren—Livonia, Mich.

4. Pittsburgh, Penn.

5. Dallas—Fort Worth—Arlington, Texas

6. Columbus, Ohio

7. Cincinnati—Middletown, Ohio—Ky.—Ind.

8. Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.

9. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio

10. Indianapolis, Indiana

Click here to find out where other cities ranked.