Since genetic factors exude a strong influence on the risk of heart disease, some people have diminished motivation to get outside and exercise as they age… But there's hope!
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that following a healthy lifestyle can cut the probability of a heart attack (or a similar event) by 50%. Their findings have been reported by the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), and are raising eyebrows among health experts around the world.
Decrease the Risk of Heart Attack
Utilizing results from 4 different studies (for which adequate data was available), researchers compiled a database of more than 50,000 individuals to analyze.
Across four studies involving 55,685 participants, genetic and lifestyle factors were independently associated with susceptibility to coronary artery disease. Among participants at high genetic risk, a favorable lifestyle was associated with a nearly 50% lower relative risk of coronary artery disease than was an unfavorable lifestyle. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.) – Amit V. Khera, M.D (et al.), NEJM, 12/15,2016
It's important to note that these results were consistent, even in those who most at risk for coronary events. The NEJM reports that; “The relative risk of incident coronary events was 91% higher among participants at high genetic risk (top quintile of polygenic scores) than among those at low genetic risk.” But for those individuals in the high-risk group, those that adhered to “favorable lifestyle” factors were associated with a 46% lower (relative) risk of coronary events vs the unfavorable lifestyle group.
Favorable lifestyle factors
What exactly were the favorable lifestyle factors that can influence your risk of coronary events? Here's the breakdown for this study:
- No current smoking
- A Lack of obesity (defined as a body mass index less than 30)
- Physical exercise at least once a week
- A healthy diet
The bottom line
Whether you're at high risk for heart attack or low risk, healthy lifestyle choices can influence your risk of a coronary event. If this data doesn't provide motivation for a healthy change… Nothing will. I for one plan on taking a nice long walk outside this afternoon! 🙂