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07-07-2011 | Cardiology | Article

Healthy women have low risk for SCD


Free abstract

MedWire News: Women who adhere to a low-risk, healthy lifestyle have a low risk for sudden cardiac death (SCD), US researchers suggest.

Stephanie Chiuve (Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts) and colleagues found that women who had a healthy, low-risk lifestyle, which includes not smoking, regular exercise, a high Mediterranean diet score, and maintenance of a healthy weight, had a 92% lower risk for SCD than women who did not have any of these low-risk factors.

The team conducted a prospective cohort study of 81,772 US women from the Nurses' Health Study from 1984-2010. They assessed the women's lifestyle factors via questionnaire every 2-4 years.

A low-risk lifestyle was defined as not smoking, having a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25, and an exercise duration of 30 minutes a day or longer, and being in the top 40% for the alternate Mediterranean diet score. The diet score emphasizes a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fish, and moderate intake of alcohol.

Chiuve et al defined SCD as death occurring within 1 hour after symptom onset, without evidence of circulatory collapse.

The findings, published in JAMA, revealed that over a follow-up period of 26 years, 321 women (aged 72 years on average) experienced SCD. After adjusting for the other three low-risk lifestyle factors, each factor was independently and significantly associated with a lower risk for SCD (p<0.001).

The absolute risks for SCD were 22 cases per 100,000 person-years among women with no low-risk factors, 17 cases/100,000 person-years among those with one factor, 18 cases/100,000 person-years among those with two factors, 13 cases/100,000 person-years among those with three factors, and 16 cases/100,000 person-years among those with all four factors.

Women with one low-risk factor had a 46% lower SCD risk, those with two factors had a 59% lower SCD risk, those with three factors a 67% lower SCD risk, and those with four factors a 92% lower risk for SCD than women with zero low-risk factors.

"Prevention efforts that can be applied across broader populations such as healthy lifestyle practices are crucial to prevent SCD, especially among women," write the authors.

Chiuve et al conclude: "Widespread adoption of a healthy lifestyle in the population may make a substantial impact on reaching the American Heart Association's 2020 Impact Goal of further lowering cardiovascular disease mortality."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Piriya Mahendra

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