(RxWiki News) Each simple step you take to protect your heart can help you live longer. Efforts such as following a healthy diet, quitting smoking and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels can all contribute to longevity.
Individuals who meet more of the seven recommended cardiovascular health factors tend to live longer, though few participants in the large-scale study met all seven factors.
"Eat healthy and maintain an ideal body weight to lower heart risk."
Quanhe Yang, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also found that younger individuals, women, non-Hispanic whites, and those with higher education levels were more likely to meet a larger number of cardiovascular health factors.
The cardiovascular factors include avoiding smoking; being physically active; having normal blood pressure, blood glucose and total cholesterol levels, and weight; and eating a healthy diet.
Researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1988-1994,1999-2004, and 2005-2010, and the NHANES III Linked Mortality File through 2006. Included in the study were 44,959 U.S. adults over the age of 20.
They found that smoking continued to decline, while the prevalence of desirable body mass index and fasting glucose levels also continued to decline. Only 2 percent of participants from 1988-1994 met all seven factors, while 1.2 percent met all factors from 2005 to 2010.
During 14.5 years of follow up, the study's midpoint, they found that participants that met six or more of the factors as compared to those who met one or fewer cardiovascular factors had a 51 percent lower risk of dying of any cause. They also had a 76 percent reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 70 percent lower chance of dying from ischemic heart disease.
Meeting a larger number of factors was also linked to a lower risk of dying from cancer. A comparison among younger participants and those over age 60 also found that meeting more factors may offer protection from premature cardiovascular death to younger patients.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, noted there are many opportunities to remain optimistic about cardiovascular health improvements.
"Continued focus through the health care system on meeting primary and secondary prevention targets is critically important, so that individuals at risk can take one step forward from poor to intermediate cardiovascular health," he said.
The study was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.