Monday, September 29, 2014

Healthy Lifestyle May Prevent 80% of Heart Attacks

Middle-aged and older men were much less likely to have heart attacks over an average of 11 years if they drank moderately, didn’t smoke, exercised regularly, ate right, and control their weight, a new study has found.

Only about 1% of the men involved in the study fit into this ultra-healthy-living category. But they were 86% less likely to have heart attacks than those who ate poorly, were overweight, exercised too little, smoked and drank too much alcohol, the researchers said.

The healthiest men could still eventually die of a heart attack, of course, and the study didn’t say if they live longer than others.

Still, “there is a lot to gain and money to be saved if people had a healthier lifestyle,” said study lead author Agnete Akesson, an associate professor with the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden.

For the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the researchers examined medical records and surveys of more than 20,700 Swedish men who were 45 to 79 years old in 1997. At the time, they had no history of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The researchers tracked them until 2009 to see how they fared.

8% of the men – 1,724 – did not practice any of the 5 healthy behaviors, and 166 of that group suffered heart attacks.

Of the 1% of men – 212- who practiced all 5 healthy behaviors, only 3 had heart attacks.
Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that all 5 healthy behaviors together could prevent 79% of first heart attacks in men.

Also, each behavior by itself reduced the risk for heart attack. For example, eating a diet rich in beneficial foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, reduced-fat dairy and whole grains was associated with a nearly 20% lower risk compared to those who practiced none of the healthy behaviors, the study found.

As for women, Akesson is the co-author of a previous study suggesting healthy living has a similar effect on females.

“People looking for a magic pill or a modern new technology to prevent heart disease need to be reminded how important lifestyle factors are,” said Dr. R. Curtis Ellison, professor of medicine and public health at Boston University School of Medicine.

the last quote says it all. Too many of us expect modern medicine to make up for our unhealthy lifestyle. Diabetics go on medication, but generally do not change the lifestyle that created the disease initially. “Why bother, the drugs are controlling my blood sugar?” We take statin drugs, get stints in our blood vessels and have open heart surgery rather than walk around the block.

Only 1% of the men in this study followed the lifestyle that you and I know leads to health and longevity. It takes some effort to follow these 5 healthy behaviors, but the benefits are immediate. How much better do you feel after just a couple of weeks of eating better or exercising regularity?

My father died at the age of 47 from a massive heart attack. My mother had her first heart attack at the age of 37. Both my older and younger brother have heart disease. At the age of 62, I have so far avoided what most physicians have claimed is my genetic destiny – heart disease. If I can do it, so can you.

Source: NIH (National Institutes of Health) -Monday, September 22.2014

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