Show Your Heart Some Love
To Avoid Leading Cause of Death, a Healthy Lifestyle May Be More Important Than Genetics
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and is obviously something you’re trying to avoid, unless, of course, you’re one of those people who believes in the Mayan calendar (in which case, read no further, weirdo). A recent study is the first to show that maintaining healthy lifestyle choices as one ages from their twenties to middle age is associated with low risk of cardiovascular disease in middle age. You may be thinking, “Duh,” but this is actually a landmark finding: It reveals that one’s lifestyle may play a more prominent role than genetics in determining cardiovascular disease risk. So you have a lot more power to protect yourself than was once thought.
According to the researchers, having a “healthy lifestyle” means maintaining five factors, including having a lean body mass index (BMI), no excess alcohol intake, no smoking, a healthy diet and regular physical activity. (No jokes about how abiding all of these guidelines might make your life feel never-ending.)
They study found a clear link between leading a healthy lifestyle and having low risk of cardiovascular disease. In the study’s first year, 44 percent of the participants had a low cardiovascular disease risk profile (their average age was 24). After twenty years, that dropped to 24.5 percent. But of the individuals who maintained all five healthy lifestyle factors, the majority—60 percent—had a low cardiovascular risk profile in their middle age. And of the participants who followed none of the healthy lifestyle factors, fewer than 5 percent had a low cardiovascular risk profile. So, your body really is a temple—or the Temple of Doom. Your choice.
Even those who had family history of heart disease were able to maintain a low cardiovascular disease risk profile if they kept up a healthy lifestyle from their youth into middle age, the researchers found.
And in case it’s not obvious, you should want a low cardiovascular risk profile for many reasons. The study’s first author, Kiang Liu, explains, "Many studies suggest that people who have low cardiovascular risk in middle age will have a better quality of life, will live longer and will have lower Medicare costs in their older age," he said. Ah, that means way more energy and retirement money for a 20-year-old pool boy in Key West. Now we’re talking!
Source: Northwestern University (2012). Lifestyle choices made in your 20s can impact your heart health in your 40s. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬/releases/2012/03/120302132426.htm
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