Yet another reason to make a healthy living lifestyle a habit. A healthy lifestyle of eating right and exercising, keeping your weight in the normal range and not smoking benefits our health, and our hearts according to a new study. The work demonstrates a dramatic drop in sudden cardiac death for those who embrace four healthy living habits.
Sudden cardiac death isn’t a heart attack, though many think the two mean the same thing, rather it is the result of a sudden cardiac arrest – an abrupt, unexpected loss of function because of problems in the heart’s electrical impulses. If not treated with a defibrillator within minutes, the result is death.
Sudden cardiac death can happen in those who know they have heart disease, and in those who have no sign or symptom beforehand. It often comes without warning, striking down somewhere between 250,000 and 310,000 patients in the United States each year.
The most recent research involved analyzing data on the lifestyle of over 81,700 women (aged 38 to 63 years) who were taking part in the Nurses’ Health Study.
The participants filled out a questionnaire asking about their medical history and lifestyle factors every two years; details on diet habits were collected every four years during the study period. 321 incidents of sudden cardiac death occurred among the subjects during the 26-year follow up,
The good news was that it appears each healthy habit confers a reduced risk of disease, but when all four options are combined, the risk dropped dramatically. The study found that women who…
– Don’t smoke
– Had a healthy BMI (under 25.0).
– Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day on most days of the week.
– Ate a Mediterranean type diet that includes lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, nuts and fish with moderate alcohol intake.
…were over 90% less likely to suffer sudden cardiac death in comparison to those who didn’t follow a healthy, low risk lifestyle.
The findings aren’t a surprise, but they do show an impressive association between lifestyle factors within our control and disease risk.
What’s more, the team estimates that if all the participants in the study practiced all four healthy habits, 81% of the sudden cardiac deaths might have been avoided.
By following all four healthy lifestyle choices, you not only do good things for your heart, but you also reduce your risk of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol… all trouble on their own.
No one says that making behavior changes is an easy thing… it takes patience and planning. Experts recommend that you shy away from vowing to drop 60 pounds and make smaller, easier to manage changes instead.
Don’t trash your whole diet, but do make a conscious effort to choose healthier foods, to be a bit more active… just five minutes daily to start with on most days. Work up from there. As you see the results of your efforts to follow a healthy living lifestyle, you’ll start to feel better… look better… and it won’t be very hard to keep on going.