The vast majority of heart attacks could be prevented by adopting a healthier lifestyle, such as exercising, eating better and not smoking, a new study has found. The changes could eliminate four out of five attacks in men.
Although it's hardly a secret that a healthier lifestyle can have an impact on cardiovascular health, the dramatic fall in the risk surprised even the researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
They discovered that four out of five-or 80 per cent-of heart attacks could be prevented in men who followed a healthier lifestyle.
They followed 20,721 healthy men aged between 45 and 79 years for 11 years, and assessed their lifestyle choices.
Those in the lowest-risk category were non-smokers who walked or cycled for 40 minutes a day, exercised at least one hour a week, had a waist measurement below 95 centimetres (37 inches), drank moderate amounts of alcohol, and ate a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and fish. These men had an 86 per cent lower risk compared to men with the unhealthiest lifestyles.
Obvious as all this may seem, just 2 per cent of Americans currently follow a healthy lifestyle.
(Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2014; 64: 1299-1306)