TUESDAY, July 4, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- It only takes five heart-healthy lifestyle habits to significantly reduce heart disease risk in middle-aged and older men, a new study shows.
Even men being treated for high blood pressure or high cholesterol showed a reduced risk of heart disease when they quit smoking, kept slim, exercised daily, drank only a moderate amount of alcohol and stuck to a healthy diet.
The 16-year study of almost 43,000 men, ages 40 to 75, was published in the July 4 issue of the journal Circulation.
The study at looked at the impact on health of five heart-healthy behaviors. In detail, these behaviors included keeping a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25 (the threshold for overweight) and exercising daily for at least 30 minutes. Moderate alcohol consumption was defined as an average of half a drink to two drinks a day. A healthy diet included fruits and vegetables, cereal fiber, nuts, legumes, chicken and fish, low-intake of trans and saturated fats, and taking a multivitamin for at least five years.
Among all the men in the study, 2,183 had a heart attack or developed fatal coronary heart disease during the study period.
Men who adhered to the five healthy habits were 87 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease, compared to men who had none of the healthy habits, the study found.
The researchers concluded that 62 percent of coronary events in the overall study group may have been prevented if all the men in the study adhered to the five healthy habits.
The researchers also found that these healthy behaviors could prevent 57 percent of all coronary events among men taking medications for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
"One of the strengths of this study is that every two years, we collected detailed updated information on lifestyle factors such as BMI or smoking status and also medical confirmation of newly diagnosed heart disease," study lead author Stephanie Chiuve, research fellow, department of nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, said in a prepared statement.
The American Heart Association offers healthy lifestyle tips.