MONDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- Women who want to keep their hearts in tip-top shape face the fewest challenges in Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.
Those three cities top the list of the 10 most heart-healthy U.S. metropolitan areas for women, a list that's dominated by western communities.
But the list, released Monday by the American Heart Association, also found the 10 metropolitan areas -- mostly in the South and the Midwest -- that spell trouble, with Nashville, Tenn., St. Louis and Detroit deemed the least friendly major cities for women's heart health.
"It's fair to say that if you live in the least heart-healthy cities, there's a chance that you'll have a high (likelihood) of heart disease and stroke and may have a shortened lifespan," said Dr. Jennifer Mieres, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and director of nuclear cardiology at the New York University School of Medicine.
Heart disease is the leading killer of American women. An estimated one-third of women suffer from heart problems, according to the American Heart Association, which says cardiovascular disease kills more women than the next five most common causes of death combined.
The heart association's "Go Red For Women" campaign commissioned Sperling's BestPlaces, which ranks the best places to live in the United States, to conduct the study. It included an analysis of 22 factors affecting women's heart health, including rates of cardiovascular mortality, high blood pressure, exercise, and smoking.
The review, which also looked at factors like stress levels and the numbers of people who commute by bicycle or on foot, encompassed the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the country.
The most heart-friendly metro areas for women are:
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston and Phoenix have the lowest heart-disease mortality rates for women, while women in San Francisco, Denver and Los Angeles are the thinnest.
Women in San Francisco, San Diego and Washington, D.C., are the healthiest eaters, and those in Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco smoke the least.
The least-friendly metropolitan areas for women are:
The researchers reported that women in Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio, and San Antonio, Texas, are among the most overweight in the country.
Women smoke the most in Cincinnati, Nashville and Indianapolis, while they eat the least healthy food in St. Louis, Kansas City, Kan., and Milwaukee.
The heart-unhealthy cities seem to share some things in common, Mieres said, like a plethora of fast-food restaurants, a tendency for people to drive instead of walk, and high smoking rates.