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    Tuesday, September 15, 2015

    5 Ways to Protect Yourself from the Leading Cause of Death

      Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States with around 596,577 deaths each year. Coronary heart disease costs the U.S. $108.9 billion each year.

    A new study based on over two decades of research has identified five lifestyle factors that may cut the risk of heart failure by 50 percent after age 65. Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump as much blood as the body and brain requires.

    Do you know someone who died of coronary disease or a heart attack? My father's life was cut short by heart failure. Like millions of people who have lost a loved one to coronary disease linked to lifestyle factors, I wish my dad had taken better care of his heart health before it was too late.

    As the father of a 7-year-old, avoiding heart disease is a top priority in my life and dictates the lifestyle habits and decisions I make everyday. Hopefully, this new study will motivate you, or someone you love, to adopt these 5 lifestyle factors, too.

    The July 2015 study (link is external), "Primary Prevention of Heart Failure in Older Adults," was published in JACC: Heart Failure. The study was led by Liana C. Del Gobbo (link is external), Ph.D., from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University.

    For this study, the Tufts researchers followed 4,490 men and women age 65 and older who didn't show initial signs of heart failure for up to 22 years. The team tracked: diet, walking habits, leisure activity, exercise intensity, alcohol use, smoking status, weight, height, waist circumference, and heart health through questionnaires and physical exams during the study period.
    Five Lifestyle Factors that Protect Against Heart Failure

        Walking at a pace 2 miles per hour or faster.
        Participating in leisure activities that burned at least 845 calories a week.
        Not smoking.
        Modest alcohol intake of one drink or more a week (but not more than 1-2 drinks/day).
        Avoiding obesity.

    Interestingly, the researchers also tracked four different dietary patterns, but found no relationship between a particular diet and heart failure. Also, exercise intensity was not as important as walking pace and leisure activity. In a press release, Del Gabbo said,

        It's encouraging to learn that older adults can make simple changes to reduce their heart failure risk, like engaging in moderate physical activity, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight. Although dietary patterns were not related to heart failure risk in this study, eating a healthy diet is of critical importance for preventing other cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

    Conclusion: The Prevention of Heart Disease Is of Paramount Importance

    "It makes sense for us and our patients to walk briskly, drink modestly (and responsibly), avoid obesity, and not smoke," the authors concluded. "We already know that these behaviors have ample health benefits, and prevention of heart failure may be an additional advantage."

    In addition to the deadly toll of coronary disease, heart failure costs billions of dollars per year. Identifying the risk factors that may prevent heart failure is an important public health mission. Encouraging people to make lifestyle choices that reduce their risk of heart disease should be a top priority for doctors, policy makers, individuals, and society as a whole.

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     This topic brought to you from psychologytoday.com
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