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14-09-2011 | Cardiology | Article

Healthy lifestyle lowers risk for heart failure


Free abstract

MedWire News: Researchers have found an inverse association between healthy lifestyle habits and the risk for heart failure (HF).

Individuals who do not smoke, are not overweight, participate in regular physical activity, and often consume vegetables are at a significantly reduced risk for heart failure, report Gang Hu (Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Los Angeles, USA) and co-authors in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

"Healthcare workers should discuss healthy lifestyle habits with their patients and stress that they can do more," commented Hu in a press statement.

While previous research has shown an association between healthy lifestyle habits and lower risk for heart failure in men, this is the first study to show a similar association in women as well, said the authors.

The study included 18,346 Finnish men and 19,729 women aged 25-74 years old, who were free from HF at baseline. They completed self-administered questionnaires on their medical history, socioeconomic factors, physical activity, dietary intake, and alcohol consumption at the start of the study.

Over a median follow-up period of 14.1 years, 638 men and 445 women developed HF.

Smoking, BMI, physical activity, and vegetable intake were independently and significantly associated with the risk for HF in men and women when they were simultaneously entered into a multivariable model, with the hazard ratios (HRs) for HF risk decreasing as the number of healthy lifestyle factors entered into the model increased.

Relative to none of these factors, the HRs for HF associated with one, two, three, and four healthy lifestyle factors (not smoking, normal BMI [<25 kg/m2], high-moderate reported levels of occupational or leisure time physical activity, and vegetable intake 3-6 times a week) were 0.69, 0.45, 0.34, and 0.31 respectively, for men and 0.53, 0.42, 0.24, and 0.19, respectively, for women.

Smoking status was the most significant contributor to HF risk, with male current smokers having a 1.86-fold increased risk for HF, and female current smokers having a 2.09-fold increased risk for HF, compared with never smokers (p<0.001 for both).

Men who were overweight (25-29.9 kg/m2) or obese (≥30 kg/m2) had a 1.15-fold and 1.75-fold higher risk for HF, while overweight and obese women had a 1.21 and 2.06-fold higher risk than people of normal weight (p<0.001 for both).

Men who reported moderate or high levels of physical activity had a 21% and 33% decreased risk for HF, while women who reported these levels of activity had a 13% and 36% decreased risk for HF, compared with those who reported light levels of activity (p=0.006 and p=0.009).

Men who ate vegetables 3-6 times a week had a 26% decreased risk and women a 27% decreased risk for HF compared with those who ate vegetables less than once a week (p=0.047). However, in women, the association was not significant.

The dose-response relationship between the number of healthy lifestyle factors engaged in and risk for HF suggests that the more healthy lifestyle habits adopted, the lower the risk for HF, explain the authors.

"In order to reduce the incidence of HF, more efforts should be put into promoting healthy lifestyles and their associated health benefits," conclude Hu and team.

By Piriya Mahendra

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