Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle Keeps Cardiovascular Risk Low
March 5, 2012

Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle Keeps Cardiovascular Risk Low

Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have found that those who maintain a healthy lifestyle from young adulthood into their 40s keep a low cardiovascular disease risk in middle age.

The researchers set out to determine the association of a healthy lifestyle maintained throughout young adulthood and middle age with low cardiovascular disease risk in middle age.

They found that most people who maintained five healthy lifestyle factors - like a lean body mass index, no excess alcohol intake, no smoking, a healthy diet and regular physical activity - were able to stay in the low-risk category for cardiovascular disease.

“Many middle-aged adults develop unhealthy diets, gain weight and aren´t as physically active," Kiang Liu, first author of the study published in the journal Circulation, said in a recent press release. "Such lifestyles, of course, lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and elevated cardiovascular risk.”

The team used data collected over 20 years from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Adults study (CARDIA), which began in 1985 and 1986 with several thousand 18- to 30-year-olds.

They analyzed BMI, alcohol intake, tobacco use, diet and exercise from over 3,000 of the CARDIA participants to help define a low cardiovascular disease risk profile and healthy lifestyle factors.

Nearly 44 percent of the participants that were 24-years-old had a low cardiovascular disease risk profile during the first year of the study.

The researchers found that 20 years later, only 24.5 percent fell into the category of a low cardiovascular disease risk profile.

They said 60 percent of those who maintained all five healthy lifestyles reached middle age with the low cardiovascular risk profile, compared with less than 5 percent who followed none of the healthy lifestyles.

Lui said that if the next generation of young people started to live a healthy lifestyle, they will be gaining more than heart health.

“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. “There are a lot of benefits to maintaining a low-risk profile.”


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