-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- People who follow seven
recommended cardiovascular health behaviors are much less likely to
die than those who follow few or none of the behaviors, according
to a study that included nearly 45,000 U.S. adults.
However, the researchers also found that few adults follow every
cardiovascular health behavior recommended by the American Heart
Association (AHA), which include: not smoking; eating a healthy
diet; having normal cholesterol, blood glucose and total
cholesterol levels; being physically active and having normal blood
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the
United States. It kills more than 800,000 people a year and
accounts for about one in three deaths, with estimated annual
direct and overall costs of $273 billion and $444 billion,
respectively, according to the researchers.
They looked at 44,959 adults, aged 20 and older, using data from
the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-94,
1999-2004 and 2005-10) and a linked database of deaths.
Only a few adults followed all seven recommended health
behaviors -- 2 percent in 1988-94 and 1.2 percent in 2005-10. Those
most likely to adhere to a greater number of recommended health
behaviors included younger people, women, whites and those with
higher education levels.
After 14.5 years of follow-up, those who followed six or more of
the health behaviors had a 51 percent lower risk of all-cause
death, a 76 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular
disease, and a 70 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart
disease, compared to those who followed one or fewer of the health
In addition, people who followed a greater number of the health
behaviors had a lower risk of death from cancer, according to lead
researcher Quanhe Yang, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, and colleagues.
They also found evidence suggesting that following the
recommended health behaviors might offer greater protection against
premature death from cardiovascular disease among people under age
"As diabetes, obesity and sedentary lifestyle are on the rise, it is crucial that we establish and reinforce these parameters in every individual," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and a spokeswoman for the AHA. "With the American Heart Association's goal to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease by 20 percent by the year 2020, these health metrics are critical in determining the best course of action by both patients and doctors to prevent heart disease."
The study appears online Friday in the
Journal of the American Medical Association, to coincide with its presentation at an American Heart Association meeting.
There are many ways to improve the cardiovascular health of
Americans, according to an accompanying editorial by Dr. Donald
Lloyd-Jones, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of
Medicine in Chicago.
"Despite the apparent difficulties in achieving the goal, there is much to be optimistic about, and opportunities abound for physicians, policy makers, and consumers to support improvements in cardiovascular health. Continued focus through the health care system on meeting primary and secondary prevention targets is critically important, so that individuals at risk can take one step forward from poor to intermediate cardiovascular health," Lloyd-Jones wrote in a journal news release.
"Advocacy will be needed for new public health and social policies to tilt the playing field toward healthier choices, so more individuals can move from intermediate to ideal levels or maintain ideal cardiovascular health," Lloyd-Jones added. "The debate over this year's farm bill, which will set policy for years to come, represents an opportunity for advocacy for cardiovascular health and a healthier food supply for all. Efforts to reduce sodium in the food supply are ongoing on multiple fronts."
The U.S. National Institutes of Health outlines how to
reduce heart risks.
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