Heart Attack Risk Cut By 73 Percent With These 6 Steps

Dave Edwards - Author
By

Jan. 6 2015, Updated 4:13 a.m. ET

Your risk of suffering a heart attack can be dramatically reduced by up to 73 percent if you follow six healthy lifestyle practices.

A new study into heart health published by researchers from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that young women who followed the six healthy activities dramatically reduced their chances of suffering heart attacks and coronary heart disease.

Nearly 90,000 nurses with an average age of 37 were studied closely for two decades by the researchers. Heart disease rates and heart attack deaths were documented over the course of the study, and the participant’s health habits were updated and recorded frequently via questionnaires.

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The data revealed by the study could prove invaluable in helping women prevent heart attacks and avoid heart disease. “We wanted to find out what proportion of heart disease cases could be attributed to unhealthy habits,” said Andrea Chomistek, study lead author and researcher at the Indiana University School of Public Health.

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“Although mortality rates from heart disease in the US have been in steady decline for the last four decades, women aged 35 to 44 have not experienced the same reduction. This disparity may be explained by unhealthy lifestyle choices.”

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During the two decades, 456 of the nurses had heart attacks and over 30,000 were diagnosed with one or more of the cardiovascular disease risk factors. The average age of a heart disease diagnosis was 50.3 and 46.8 for diagnosis with one of the risk factors for heart disease.

By analyzing the data, researchers identified the following six key lifestyle steps that if practiced slashed heart attack risk by 92 percent and heart disease risk factors by 66 percent: not smoking, maintaining a normal BMI, getting at least 2.5 hours of exercise each week, watching television less than seven hours a week, eating a healthy diet and limiting alcohol to a drink or less per day.

This means that nearly three-quarters of heart attack deaths in the group would have been prevented if all the participants had adhered to a lifestyle that incorporated these six steps. In addition, the researchers found that of those who had developed risk factors for heart disease, but had not yet suffered a heart attack, implementing at least four of the six healthy lifestyle practices dramatically cut the risk of developing heart disease.

Professor Chomistek believes the study has major implications for women.

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“This is an important public health message. Women should begin following these lifestyle practices early in life, especially if they are already taking medication for a risk factor such as hypertension or high cholesterol. It’s an easy way to prevent future heart trouble.”

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The results of this study certainly appear to validate many of the lifestyle factors that we have been sensibly advised to follow for many years in order to prevent a heart attack.

[Image Via Openwalls]

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