The 5 daily lifestyle steps are nothing more than common sense, and most people have likely already heard they should be doing them. Below are the 5 steps people should take in order to reduce their chances of getting heart disease by 80%:
- Stop Smoking: 36% reduction
- Consume a Healthy Diet (this should include plenty of whole grains, low/no-fat diary products, vegetables, nuts, fruits and legumes): 18% reduction
- Keep Fat off Your Belly (your waist should be less than 37 inches): 12% reduction
- Drink Moderate Amounts of Alcohol (this should be less than two drinks per day): 11% reduction
- Get Daily Exercise (this should be 40 minutes per day): 3% reduction
The study followed over 20,000 (20,721) Swedish men who were in good health, and who had no history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, high cholesterol, hypertension or diabetes. The men who participated in the study tracked their diet and lifestyle choices over a 12 year period.
The results found that common sense healthy lifestyle choices could make a huge impact on preventing heart disease from developing. One of the study leaders, Agneta Akesson, summed it up succinctly by saying, “It is not surprising that healthy lifestyle choices would lead to a reduction in heart attacks. What is surprising is how drastically the risk dropped due to these factors.”
Most surprising was that virtually nobody is following these five simple steps. The researchers found only 1% of the men actually did all five steps noting, “Only 1 percent of the population comprised the low-risk group, and thus followed this set of healthy lifestyle practices of their own accord.”
While the number of people dying from heart disease has fallen over the last few decades, much of that reduction has come from better medical therapies. Better therapies are good, but they shouldn’t be the first line of defense. It would be much better to prevent heart disease before it happens through better lifestyle choices, since this circumvents the costs and possible side effects of medication. Prevention is always a better solution than having to treat the heart disease, even if it can be effectively treated.
(Photo courtesy of Kevin)