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Healthy Diet Helps Lower Risk of Heart Attack in Men, Study

First Posted: Sep 23, 2014 03:17 AM EDT

Adhering to a healthy lifestyle helps men slash four out of five coronary events, a new study has revealed.

Coronary events refer to the adverse episodes caused by diseases that affect the coronary arteries. In the latest study, researchers at the Karolinska Institute, Stockhlom, found that by following a healthy lifestyle that includes maintaining a healthy diet, exercise and not smoking, and moderating intake of alcohol, men could reduce the risk of heart attack.

Over the recent decade, there has been a dramatic decline in the mortality rate related to heart diseases and much of this was due to medical therapies. But, the researchers suggested that the potential side effects of the medication can be avoided by opting for healthy lifestyle choices, which is more cost effective for reductions in the incidents of coronary heart diseases.

In this study, the researchers looked at the population of 20,721 healthy Swedish men of age 45-79 years. The subjects were followed for 11 years. Using a questionnaire, the researchers assessed the lifestyle choices. They explored the diet, consumption of alcohol, smoking status, level of physical activity and abdominal adiposity.

Men who did not smoke, walked or cycled for 40 minutes per day, exercised at least one hour per week, had a waist circumference below 95 centimeters, consumed moderate amounts of alcohol and followed a healthy diet with regular intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, reduced fat dairy products, whole grains and fish had a reduced risk.

"It is not surprising that healthy lifestyle choices would lead to a reduction in heart attacks," said Agneta Akesson, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, and lead author of the study. "What is surprising is how drastically the risk dropped due to these factors."

The risk of heart attack dropped by 86 percent in those men who combined low-risk diet and moderate alcohol consumption with not smoking, being physically active and have low amount of belly fat. Similar results were observed in men with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

"It is important to note that these lifestyle behaviors are modifiable, and changing from high-risk to low-risk behaviors can have great impact on cardiovascular health," Akesson said. "However, the best thing one can do is to adopt healthy lifestyle choices early in life."

The finding is documented in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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