A new study shows the effect of lifestyle changes when it comes to preventing heart disease.
According to new research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, men can drastically reduce their risk of heart ailments through five simple measures. The steps are mostly common sense measures: having a healthy diet, staying in good shape, exercising in regular intervals, staying away from tobacco and controlling alcohol intake.
The new study claims that 80% of heart attacks involving men are actually preventable. The team behind the research, who come from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, detailed how each preventive measure lowered the risk of heart disease in men.
"It is not surprising that healthy lifestyle choices would lead to a reduction in heart attacks," said Agneta Akesson, the lead researcher for the study. "What is surprising is how drastically the risk dropped due to these factors."
For the study, the team monitored 20,000 men in Sweden aged 45 to 79. The research, which was took 11 years to finish, claims that even men who have neglected their health for a long period of time can still guard themselves against heart disease. The team claims that a minuscule percentage of Americans, about 2 percent to be precise, have lifestyles that boost cardiovascular health.
"I think the magnitude of reduction of heart attack is really, really tremendous," said Dr. Sam Brar, a cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente. "We know that in patients who have already developed blockages in the artery and have had to have open heart surgery or stunting procedures to fix these blockages, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can significantly increase their life expectancy."
According to the the group's findings, staying away from tobacco lowered heart disease risk in men by 36 percent. Men who walked or rode a bicycle for 40 minutes a day and did one other form of exercise one hour per week lowered their risk of heart ailments by three percent.
Meanwhile, men with a waist size under 37 inches lowered their risk by 12 percent. In terms of diet, men who ate a lot of vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grain nuts, legumes and low-fat dairy products lowered their risk by 18 percent. Finally, men who limited themselves to just two drinks a day lowered their risk by 11 percent. Only one percent of the test subjects did the five measures on their own.