According to 2 new studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, following the heart-healthy advice about eating the right foods, exercising and losing weight does pay off with a substantially reduced risk of heart problems.
The reports, both originating at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, focused on different aspects of cardiovascular risk in two large groups: 83,882 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, and the 20,900 men in the Physicians’ Health Study. Both arrived at the same conclusion: Do the right things and you will get measurable benefits.
Weight #1 Factor in Both Studies
The women’s study looked at the association between high blood pressure and six lifestyle factors: obesity, exercise, alcohol intake, use of non-narcotic painkillers, adherence to a diet designed to prevent high blood pressure and intake of supplemental folic acid. All six were found to be associated with the risk of developing high blood pressure in the 14-year study, and the association was cumulative.
Women who followed advice on all six factors had an 80 percent lower incidence of high blood pressure than those who followed none of the rules. The incidence was 72 percent lower for the women who followed five lifestyle rules, 58 percent lower for the women following four rules and 53 percent lower for the women who followed three rules. Obesity was the most important risk factor.
The study in men looked at the relationship between the lifetime risk of heart failure and six lifestyle factors: obesity, exercise, smoking, alcohol intake, consumption of breakfast cereals, and consumption of fruits and vegetables.
The 22 year study reaffirmed the direct relationship between following healthy lifestyle habits and the risk of heart failure. The risk of heart failure was about one in five in men who ignored the advice about all beneficial lifestyle factors and one in 10 for those who following at least four or more of healthy lifestyle factors.
The highest contributing factor in the men’s study was also weight. The risk of heart failure was 17 percent in men who were overweight or obese, and about 11 percent in those of normal weight.
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