Four out of five men's heart attacks may be prevented

24/09/14 . News

New study shows that four out of five heart attacks in men may be prevented by healthier lifestyles. Cardiovascular disease could be significantly reduced through programs targeted to men and promoting low-risk lifestyle choices.

 Tejvan Pettinger

This is quite a big study. Researchers examined 20,721 healthy Swedish men aged 45-79 years of age and followed them for 11 years. ​The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 

Men in the study with the lowest risk:

  • were non-smokers
  • walked or cycled for at least 40 minutes per day 
  • exercised at least one hour per week
  • had a waist circumference below 37 inches
  • consumed moderate amounts of alcohol
  • followed a healthy diet with a regular consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, reduced-fat dairy products, whole grains and fish.

The researchers found a clear reduction in risk for heart attack for each individual lifestyle factor the participants practiced. 

It is not surprising that healthy lifestyle choices would lead to a reduction in heart attacks,” said Dr Agneta Akesson, Associate Professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, and lead author of the study. “What is surprising is how drastically the risk dropped due to these factors.”

There is a long way to go, however. According to the authors, less than 2 percent of the American population conforms to what is defined as ideal cardiovascular health. The burden of cardiovascular disease could be significantly reduced through programs targeted to men and promoting low-risk lifestyle choices.

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