Healthy Women Less Likely to Suffer Cardiac Death

Women with a healthy lifestyle have lower risk of sudden cardiac death

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It's no secret that following a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, exercise, avoiding tobacco and maintaining a low body weight helps improve overall health. New research suggests that when it comes to women it might also lower their risk of sudden cardiac death.

Women at low risk for those four lifestyle factors had a 92 percent lower chance as compared to women at low risk for none of those factors. The research was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Exercise, quit smoking and eat healthy."

Sudden cardiac death is when a death occurs within an hour after the onset of symptoms without evidence of circulatory collapse. It accounts for more than half of all heart deaths with up to 310,000 cases occurring each year in the United States.

Researchers collected data as part of the Nurses' Health Study. Lead researcher Stephanie E. Chiuve of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and her colleagues examined the link between a healthy lifestyle and risk of sudden cardiac death. More than 81,000 women participated between June 1984 and June 2010, with their lifestyle factors assessed via questionnaires every two to four years.

Researchers defined a low-risk lifestyle as avoiding cigarettes, having a body mass index of less than 25, engaging in physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes daily, and consuming a diet related to a Mediterranean-style diet that emphasizes high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains and fish, with moderate alcohol intake.

During the 26-year study, there were 321 cases of sudden cardiac death among women with an average age of 72 at the time of sudden cardiac death.

The four low-risk factors were shown to have a significant and independent link to lower risk of sudden cardiac death. When it came to body mass index, women with a BMI between 21 and 24.9 were believed to be at lowest risk.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 5, 2011
Last Updated:
July 11, 2011