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Men can Reduce Risk of Heart Attack via Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Update Date: Sep 22, 2014 03:46 PM EDT

Several studies have found that people who live healthy lifestyles have overall better health. In a new study, researchers decided to focus on how healthy lifestyle choices affected the heart health of men specifically. The team found that these choices could lower men's risk of suffering from four out of five common coronary events.

In this study, the team examined 11 years of data on 20,721 healthy males from Sweden. The men were between the ages of 45 and 79. The men's healthy lifestyle choices were assessed via a questionnaire. Healthy lifestyle choices included diet content, alcohol intake, smoking status, level of physical activity and abdominal adiposity, also known as belly fat.

Men with the "best" lifestyle choices were non-smokers who walked or cycled at least 40 minutes each day, exercised at least one hour each week, drank moderate levels of alcohol and consumed a healthy diet made up of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole-grains, fish and reduced-fat dairy products. In terms of physical appearance, these men had a waist circumference that was less than 95 centimeters. This group of men had an estimated 86 percent reduced risk of heart attack when compared to men from the high-risk group.

The researchers found that heart attack risk fell for each healthy lifestyle factor. Specifically, the combination of a low-risk diet and moderate alcohol intake was associated to about a 35 percent reduced risk of heart attack in comparison to men from the high-risk group.

"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," said lead author of the study, Agneta Akesson, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, reported in the press release. "It is important to note that these lifestyle behaviors are modifiable, and changing from high-risk to low-risk behaviors can have great impact on cardiovascular health. However, the best thing one can do is to adopt healthy lifestyle choices early in life."

The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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