Lifestyle choices, including a healthful diet and exercise, may prevent four out of five heart attacks, according to an article published this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Researchers assessed five modifiable health factors among 20,721 men for 11 years. Those who avoided smoking, had moderate alcohol intake, exercised, had the least amount of belly fat, and consumed the most fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes had an 86 percent lower risk for a heart attack, compared with those who did not meet these criteria. Not smoking and eating healthfully had the most powerful individual effects, reducing heart attack risk by 36 and 18 percent, respectively, compared with people who smoke and eat poorly. Less than 2 percent of Americans follow the American Heart Association’s recommendations for ideal heart health. Researchers estimate that the program utilized in this study could reduce the burden of heart disease by as much as 79 percent.
- Akesson A, Larsson SC, Discacciati A, Wolk A. Low-risk diet and lifestyle habits in the primary prevention of myocardial infarction in men: a population-based prospective cohort study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;64:1299-1306.