New Study: 4 Best Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

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Study shows clear benefits of a 1. healthy meals  2.  exercise  3.  maintaining normal weight,  and 4.  not smoking.  

In the study, 6200 men, age 44-88 were followed for almost 8 years.  Those 4 things reduced chance of death 80%. 

First time lifestyle is linked to preventing heart disease.

A large, multi-center study led by Johns Hopkins researchers has found a significant link between lifestyle factors and heart health, adding even more evidence in support of regular exercise, eating a Mediterranean-style meals, keeping a normal weight and, most importantly, not smoking.

The researchers found that adopting those four lifestyle behaviors protected against coronary heart disease as well as the early buildup of calcium deposits in heart arteries, and reduced the chance of death from all causes by 80 percent over an eight-year period. Results of the study, “Low-Risk Lifestyle, Coronary Calcium, Cardiovascular Events, and Mortality: Results from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis,” are described in an online article posted June 3, 2013 by the American Journal of Epidemiology.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to find a protective association between low-risk lifestyle factors and early signs of vascular disease, coronary heart disease and death, in a single longitudinal evaluation,” says Haitham Ahmed, M.D., M.P.H., the lead author who is an internal medicine resident with the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at Johns Hopkins.

“We evaluated data on more than 6,200 men and women, age 44-84, from white, African-American, Hispanic and Chinese backgrounds. All were followed for an average of 7.6 years. Those who adopted all four healthy behaviors had an 80 percent lower death rate over that time period compared to participants with none of the healthy behaviors,” says Ahmed.

Study participants all took part in the ongoing Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a prospective examination of the risk factors, prevalence and prevention of cardiovascular disease. MESA participants were recruited from six academic medical centers and did not have a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease when they were enrolled.

All participants had coronary calcium screening using computed tomography (a CT scan) when they were first enrolled in the study to see if there were early signs of calcium deposits in their heart arteries that are known to contribute to heart attack risk. As the study progressed, the researchers also assessed whether the participants had a heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest, chest pain, angioplasty or died due to coronary heart disease or other causes.

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 percent, or 129 participants, satisfied all four healthy lifestyle criteria.

“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.”

The researchers emphasize that their study shows the importance of healthy lifestyle habits not just for reducing the risk of heart disease, but also for preventing mortality from all causes.

“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.”

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The study was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health (grant R01-HL071739 and contracts N01-HC-95159 through N01- 485 HC-95165 and N01-HC-95169).

The other co-investigators were: Michael J. Blaha, Khurram Nasir, Steven R. Jones, Pamela Ouyang and Juan J. Rivera from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Arthur Agatston from South Beach Preventive Cardiology in Miami; Ron Blankstein from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; Nathan D. Wong from the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine; Susan Lakoski from the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington; Matthew J. Budoff from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles; Gregory L. Burke from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Christopher T. Sibley from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

For more information on the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/heart_vascular_institute/clinical_services/centers_excellence/ciccarone_center.html

Media Contacts:
Ellen Beth Levitt, eblevitt@jhmi.edu, 410-955-5307
Helen Jones, hjones49@jhmi.edu, 410-502-9422

Click on any image to enlarge. 

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“Aspirin can help prevent heart attacks in patients with coronary artery disease and in healthy men over 50 years of age. Only low doses, between 81 and 325 mg a day, are needed. But people who think they may be having an attack need an extra 325 mg of aspirin, and they need it as quickly as possible. For the best results, chew a single full-sized 325-mg tablet, but don’t use an enteric-coated tablet, which will act slowly even if chewed. And don’t forget to call 911, then your doctor. It’s a contemporary update on the old reminder to take two aspirin and call in the morning — and it’s good advice to chew over.” -Harvard Family Health

http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0505a.shtml

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MUST READ!  – DR. OZ  on WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR BATHROOM TO STOP A HEART ATTACK 

http://blog.doctoroz.com/dr-oz-blog/what-should-you-have-in-the-bathroom-to-stop-a-heart-attack

IF YOU NEED HELP WITH ANY OF THE 4 LIFESTYLE CHANGES, CONTACT US.  REMEMBER:

1.  Eat nutritious meals (veggies, fruits, nuts, fish)

2.  Maintain a healthy normal weight for your height

3.  Exercise daily

4.  Do not smoke or get help quitting

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