Women who measure their peak heart rates for exercise will need to do some new math as will physicians giving stress tests to patients.

A new formula based on a large study from Northwestern Medicine provides a more accurate estimate of the peak heart rate a healthy woman should attain during exercise. It also will more accurately predict the risk of heart-related death during a stress test.

"Now we know for the first time what is normal for women, and it's a lower peak heart rate than for men," said Martha Gulati, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and preventive medicine and a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine. "Using the standard formula, we were more likely to tell women they had a worse prognosis than they actually did."

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