Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) remains the number one killer in the United States, but you have the power to prevent a heart attack and maybe save your life. A new Swedish study shows simple lifestyle changes reduce heart attack risk by 80 percent.
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Making five simple changes benefits men and women of all ages. And they don’t require medication, surgery or expensive equipment to do.
Scientists based at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm looked back at information retrieved in questionnaires from more than 20,000 healthy men for just over a decade.
The researchers found strong links between the incidence of heart attack and five behavioral traits.
Results showed that the healthiest of all the participants were those who:
Specifically, the healthiest men walked or cycled for at least 40 minutes a day. They also exercised at least one hour a week and had waist measurements below 37.5 inches.
The heart-healthy diets were high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, reduced-fat dairy products, whole grains and fish.
The participants who followed these guidelines had an 80 percent lower risk of having a first heart attack than participants who did not follow the five guidelines.
Simple solution but few take advantage
Researchers say simply following the five healthy lifestyle choices could prevent an impressive four out of five heart-related events in men.
Unfortunately, a tiny minority, less than two percent of the adults in the United States, currently fit within these healthy lifestyle parameters.
Cardiologist Richard Krasuski, MD, Director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center at Cleveland Clinic, did not take part in the study but reviewed it. “The participants that had all five healthy activities benefited from a risk-reduction of about 80 percent. So, the idea is that you can actually reduce the risk of first heart attack by about 80 percent by practicing those five activities,” he says.
Dr. Krasuski says women can benefit from these lifestyle changes, too. And the good news is it is never too late to start. “Starting at an early age is important, but it is never too late. So, it doesn’t matter how old you are making these types of changes, looking at healthful activities can only pay future dividends.”
What you can do
Talk to your doctor about your risk factors for a heart attack or heart disease. Together you can plan simple changes that are much more powerful than the sum of their parts. The health of your heart is in your hands.