The researchers developed a lifestyle score for each of the participants, ranging from 0 (least healthy) to 4 (healthiest), based on their diet, body mass index (BMI), amount of regular moderate-intensity physical activity and smoking status. Only 2%, or 129 participants, satisfied all four healthy lifestyle criteria.
Smoking a key factor
"Of all the lifestyle factors, we found that smoking avoidance played the largest role in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and mortality," says Roger Blumenthal, M.D., a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, director of the Ciccarone Center and senior author of the study. "In fact, smokers who adopted two or more of the healthy behaviors still had lower survival rates after 7.6 years than did nonsmokers who were sedentary and obese."
Blumenthal, who is also the president of the American Heart Association's Maryland affiliate, says the findings "bolster recent recommendations by the American Heart Association, which call for maintaining a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and fish, keeping a BMI of less than 25, being physically active and not smoking."
"While there are risk factors that people can't control, such as their family history and age," says Ahmed, "these lifestyle measures are things that people can change and consequently make a big difference in their health. That's why we think this is so important."
Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.