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People with Healthy Hearts Live 14 Years Longer

Update Date: Nov 06, 2012 02:01 AM EST

A new research suggests that one can add up to 14 years to their life if only they possess a healthy heart by the time they reach middle age.  According to a new Northwestern Medicine study, when compared to people who are at risk of two or more cardiovascular disease (CVD) factors, those with a heart free of such risk may actually live longer.

"We found that many people develop cardiovascular disease as they live into old age, but those with optimal risk factor levels live disease-free longer," said John T. Wilkins, M.D., first author of the study. "We need to do everything we can to maintain optimal risk factors so that we reduce the chances of developing cardiovascular disease and increase the chances that we'll live longer and healthier."

For the study, Wilkins, an assistant professor in medicine, cardiology and preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and his team analyzed data from five different cohorts included in the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project. They looked at the risk of all forms of fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular disease of participants aged 45, 55 and 65 through 95 years of age, Medical Xpress reported.

At the beginning of the study, all participants were free of CVD. The researchers collected data on the blood pressure, total cholesterol, diabetes and smoking status of the participants.

The findings of the study revealed that those with optimal risk factor profiles lived up to 14 years longer free of total CVD than people who had at least two risk factors.

Also, it was found that while middle-aged men had approximately 60 percent lifetime risk of developing cardiovascular disease, women of around the same age had 56 percent of the same risk.  

Lifetime risks of cardiovascular disease were strongly associated with risk factor burden in middle age, the report said.

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