Does the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Mental Health Differ by Gender in Older Adults Who Have Had a Heart Attack?

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2018-03-14

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Copeland, Morgan
Otis, Katherine
Hartos, Jessica

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Abstract

Purpose: Post-MI adults are more likely to have depression and physical activity may help; however, there are limited findings for whether physical activity helps older post-MI adults, especially by gender. The purpose of this study was to analyze the relationship between physical activity and mental health in a general population of older adults (age 65 and older) who have had a heart attack and whether it differs by gender. Methods: This cross sectional analysis used data from the 2015 BRFSS for males and females ages 65 and older who reported ever being diagnosed with a heart attack in Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Adjusted logistic regression analyses were conducted by gender to assess the relationship between physical activity and mental health while controlling for behavioral, health-related, and demographic factors. Results: Across the states, 21-25% of adults 65 years and older who had experienced a heart attack reported poor mental health, and 40-47% reported being inactive. Adjusted analyses showed no significant relationship between physical activity and mental health, but did find activity limitations to be significantly related to mental health in females. Conclusions: Overall, physical activity was not significantly related to mental health in general samples of men and women 65 and older who had been diagnosed with a heart attack. However, this study found a inverse relationship between activity limitations and mental health in females. Although physical activity should continue to be encouraged, clinicians should evaluate and screen older post-MI adults for activity limitations and mental health and vice versa, especially in females.

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