Lifestyle Study Finds Impressive Heart Risk Reduction

October 5 2014

by Emily Ryan

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This well-designed population-based, prospective cohort study of Swedish men followed them for 11 years. They found a dramatic risk reduction in heart attacks when comparing those with no risk factors with those with 5 risk factors. While a risk reduction is not surprising the magnitude of the risk reduction is huge.

Low-Risk Diet and Lifestyle Habits in the Primary Prevention of Myocardial Infarction in Men
A Population-Based Prospective Cohort Study

Agneta Åkesson, PhD; Susanna C. Larsson, PhD; Andrea Discacciati, MSc; Alicja Wolk, DMSc

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;64(13):1299-1306. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2014.06.1190


Background: Adherence to a combination of healthy dietary and lifestyle practices may have an impressive impact on the primary prevention of myocardial infarction (MI).

Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine the benefit of combined low-risk diet and healthy lifestyle practices on the incidence of MI in men.

Methods: The population-based, prospective cohort of Swedish men comprised 45- to 79-year-old men who completed a detailed questionnaire on diet and lifestyle at baseline in 1997. In total, 20,721 men with no history of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol levels were followed through 2009. Low-risk behavior included 5 factors: a healthy diet (top quintile of Recommended Food Score), moderate alcohol consumption (10 to 30 g/day), no smoking, being physically active (walking/bicycling ≥40 min/day and exercising ≥1 h/week), and having no abdominal adiposity (waist circumference <95 cm).

Results: During 11 years of follow-up, we ascertained 1,361 incident cases of MI. The low-risk dietary choice together with moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a relative risk of 0.65 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.48 to 0.87) compared with men having 0 of 5 low-risk factors. Men having all 5 low-risk factors compared with those with 0 low-risk factors had a relative risk of 0.14 (95% CI: 0.04 to 0.43). This combination of healthy behaviors, present in 1% of the men, could prevent 79% (95% CI: 34% to 93%) of the MI events on the basis of the study population.

Conclusions: Almost 4 of 5 MIs in men may be preventable with a combined low-risk behavior.

Link to abstract: content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=1909605