Four Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors Slow Down Progression of Atherosclerosis and Lower Risk of Death

Gabriella FabbriThe Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) included 6,229 US adults aged 44 to 84. All patients were given one point for each of four behaviors they had option to follow: a Mediterranean-style diet, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, maintaining a healthy body-mass index (BMI), and not smoking. All participants also underwent coronary artery calcium screening at baseline and three years later.

People with higher score (healthier lifestyle) had slower progression of atherosclerosis and 80% less risk of death in the observed period. Each of the healthy behaviors contributed independently to better outcome.

Of the behaviors investigated, however, smoking was the most devastating. Subjects who exercised, ate healthily and maintained normal weight, but smoked, were still worse off than people who did nothing else right but stayed away from cigarettes. Not smoking is the best individual thing people (including scuba divers) can do for their health.

Read full paper: Ahmed HM, Blaha MJ, Nasir K, et al. Low-risk lifestyle, coronary calcium, cardiovascular events, and mortality: results from MESA. Am J Epidemiol 2013; DOI:10.1093/aje/kws453. Available at: http://aje.oxfordjournals.org.

Learn more about cardiovascular health.

Post written by: Petar Denoble, MD, D.Sc.

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