Five recommended health behaviors may prevent four out of five heart attacks in men, a new study suggests.
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 and did everything right on the diet, exercise and weight fronts, the study found.
Only about 1 percent of men involved in the study fit into this ultra-healthy-living category. But they were 86 percent 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 Agneta Akesson, an associate professor with the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden.
As for women, Akesson is the co-author of a previous study suggesting healthy living has a similar effect on females.
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The protective endcaps of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age, telomeres are combinations of DNA and proteins that protect the ends of chromosomes and help them remain stable. Telomere shortening is associated with a weakening of structural integrity, and is thought to be a mechanism of aging.
Eli Puterman, from the University of California/San Francisco (UCSF; California, USA), and colleagues examined three healthy behaviors, namely – physical activity, dietary intake and sleep quality – over the course of one year in 239 post-menopausal, non-smoking women. The women provided blood samples at the beginning and end of the year for telomere measurement and reported on stressful events that occurred during those 12 months.
In women who engaged in lower levels of healthy behaviors, there was a significantly greater decline in telomere length in their immune cells for every major life stressor that occurred during the year. Yet women who maintained active lifestyles, healthy diets, and good quality sleep appeared protected when exposed to stress – accumulated life stressors did not appear to lead to greater shortening.
Observing that: “Women who maintained relatively higher levels of health behaviors (1 standard deviation above the mean) appeared to be protected when exposed to stress,” the study authors submit that: “This finding has implications for understanding malleability of telomere length, as well as expectations for possible intervention effects.”
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Live longer thanks to fruit, an active lifestyle, limited alcohol and no cigarettes. This is the conclusion of a study by public health physicians at the University of Zurich who documented for the first time the impact of behavioural factors on life expectancy in numbers.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disorders – the incidence of these non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is constantly rising in industrialised countries. The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is, therefore, in the process of developing a national prevention strategy with a view to improving the population’s health competence and encouraging healthier behaviour. Attention is focusing, among other things, on the main risk factors for these diseases which are linked to personal behaviour – i.e. tobacco smoking, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful alcohol consumption.
Against this backdrop Private Docent Brian Martin and his colleagues from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) at the University of Zurich have examined the effects of these four factors – both individual and combined – on life expectancy. For the first time the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle can be depicted in numbers. An individual who smokes, drinks a lot, is physically inactive and has an unhealthy diet has 2.5 fold higher mortality risk in epidemiological terms than an individual who looks after his health. Or to put it positively: “A healthy lifestyle can help you stay ten years’ younger”, comments the lead author Eva Martin-Diener.
According to Martin an unhealthy lifestyle has above all a long-lasting impact. Whereas high wine consumption, cigarettes, an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity scarcely had any effect on mortality among the 45 to 55-year-olds, it does have a visible effect on 65 to 75-year-olds. The probability of a 75-year-old man with none of the four risk factors surviving the next ten years is 67 percent, exactly the same as the risk for a smoker who is ten years younger, doesn’t exercise, eats unhealthily and drinks a lot.
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Source: Medical News Today.
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