The treadmill stress test, which is used as the standard measurement for heart health, apparently fails to take into account some very important information according to a new study.
The test, which measures how the heart reacts to exercise, currently doesn’t factor in very important differences between men and women. While further research is still needed, the idea that perhaps these tests should be looked at differently for each sex (with a different maximum heart rate) is something that is now a point of conversation in the medical community.
According to a CBS news article on the study, the typical way maximum heart rate is measured in a doctor’s office (or by fitness professionals) is to take 220 minus the person’s age, regardless of gender.
The Mayo clinic study looked at a large sample of tests from both men and women and noticed a pattern of differences as well as several similarities. For example, with both genders, maximum heart rate declines with age and in women, this decline is more gradual. The way the current testing standards are now leads younger women to overestimate their target peak rate and older women to underestimate theirs.
More consideration will be given regarding updates to current standards pending additional research.