An article published online on March 16, 2012 in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows a clear decline in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or from all causes over a 14 year average period in association with the presence of a greater number of mainly controllable health factors.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Atlanta analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of 1988-1994, 1999-2004 and 2005-2010 for their research, which included a total of 44,959 participants. Survey responses and physical examinations provided information on the following cardiovascular health metrics: smoking status, physical activity level, body mass index, healthy diet intake, total serum cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting blood glucose. Mortality data obtained through 2006 ascertained 2,673 deaths, including 1,085 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 576 ischemic heart disease deaths over a median follow-up period of 14.5 years.
Subjects were scored on optimal status for each of the seven health metrics, i.e., not smoking, being physically active and having healthy body mass index, diet, serum cholesterol, blood pressure and hemoglobin A1C (indicating desirable glucose levels). Less than 2 percent of all participants met all seven goals. Having two or more optimal factors was associated with a 27 percent lower adjusted risk of dying of cardiovascular disease compared to one or no factors, and this risk continued to decline in association with an increasing number of factors to reach a 76 percent reduction with the presence of six or more factors. Additionally, having six or more factors was associated with a 51 percent lower risk of dying of any cause.
"Our findings indicate that the presence of a greater number of cardiovascular health metrics was associated with a graded and significantly lower risk of total and cardiovascular disease mortality," the authors conclude.
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