An article published online on June 3, 2013 in the American Journal of Epidemiology reveals that the practice of just four healthy lifestyle factors by men and women between 44 and 84 years of age reduced the risk of dying by 80 percent over a 7.6 year period in comparison with those who followed none of the practices.
The current analysis included participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), an ongoing study of the risk factors, prevalence and prevention of cardiovascular disease. The participants, who did not have cardiovascular disease upon enrollment, underwent coronary artery calcium screening at the beginning of the study to ascertain the presence of calcium deposits which predict heart attack risk. Subjects were scored on their adherence to behaviors that included not smoking, engaging in regular exercise, consuming a Mediterranean style diet and maintaining a normal weight, and were followed for an average of 7.6 years during which any chest pain, coronary events, or deaths were noted.
"We evaluated data on more than 6,200 men and women, age 44-84, from white, African-American, Hispanic and Chinese backgrounds," reported lead author Haitham Ahmed, MD, MPH, who is an internal medicine resident with the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. "All were followed for an average of 7.6 years. Those who adopted all four healthy behaviors had an 80 percent lower death rate over that time period compared to participants with none of the healthy behaviors."
"To our knowledge, this is the first study to find a protective association between low-risk lifestyle factors and early signs of vascular disease, coronary heart disease and death, in a single longitudinal evaluation," he announced. "While there are risk factors that people can't control, such as their family history and age, these lifestyle measures are things that people can change and consequently make a big difference in their health. That's why we think this is so important."
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