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Simple lifestyle changes can cut heart disease risk

Harold Mandel's picture
Striving for a healthy heart

It often appears useless to switch to a healthy lifestyle after years of poor nutrition and inactivity. The laziness becomes a habit and it appears as if since the damage to the cardiovascular system has already begun why bother trying to get healthy. However, new research shows switching to a healthy lifestyle after years of living poorly can actually lower heart disease risk.

Healthy lifestyle changes made during young adulthood are beneficial

The health benefits of a healthy lifestyle have been very well established. However, it has been unclear whether switching to healthy behaviors as an adult can still change coronary artery disease risk reported the journal Circulation. Researchers have determined healthy lifestyle changes made during young adulthood are actually associated with lowered coronary artery disease risk. Furthermore, changes to unhealthy lifestyles have been observed to be associated with increased risk for subclinical atherosclerosis in middle age.

Natural progression of coronary artery disease can be reversed

What this means is adults can actually reverse heart disease risk reports Northwestern University in a review of this study. Switching to healthy lifestyle habits in your 30s and 40s can dramatically cut heart disease risk. The scientists have found the natural progression of coronary artery disease can actually be reversed with healthy habits to replace unhealthy ones.

Picking up unhealthy habits at middle age is detrimental

Bonnie Spring, the lead investigator of the study and a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says it's not too late to change things around in young adulthood after years of adhering to unhealthy habits. There's still time to make positive changes that will be beneficial for your heart. However, it should also be highlighted that if people let go of healthy habits or pick up more bad habits as they become older there is a significant detrimental impact on their coronary arteries.

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The scientists assessed healthy lifestyle factors as including:

1: Not being overweight or obese

2: Being a nonsmoker

3: Being physically active

4: Having low alcohol intake

5: Having a healthy diet which is high in fiber and low in sodium with lots of fruit and vegetables

The scientists observed that each increase in healthy lifestyle factors was associated with a decreased risk of detectable coronary artery calcification and lower intima-media thickness. These are the two major markers of cardiovascular disease which can predict future cardiovascular events.

It is therefore clearly a myth that people can't change to lead a healthier lifestyle at middle age. It's also a myth that after years of poor lifestyle habits it's too late to change things anyway and so why bother. Sharing this information should help give more people motivation to switch to a healthy lifestyle at any age.