Healthy Lifestyle Halves Heart Failure Risk
Men in Study Who Followed a Healthy Lifestyle Cut Their Risk of Heart Failure in Half
WebMD News Archive
July 21, 2009 -- Men who follow a healthy lifestyle may cut their risk of heart failure in half.
Researchers say it’s the first time a large study has shown that modifiable
lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise, alcohol use, and smoking, can have a significant
impact on the lifetime risk of congestive heart failure.
About 550,000 Americans each year are diagnosed with congestive heart
failure, and 20%-50% die from the disease.
The condition occurs when the heart is no longer strong enough to pump
enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Although medical treatments can slow the
progression of the disease, there is no cure.
In an editorial that accompanies the study in The Journal of the American
Medical Association, Veronique L. Roger, MD, MPH, of the Mayo Clinic in
Rochester, Minn., says the findings underscore a powerfully simple message --
that a healthy lifestyle will help prevent heart disease and greatly enhance
Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Heart
The study followed 20,900 men who participated in the Physician’s Health
Study from 1982 to 2008 who were healthy at the start of the study. During the
study period, 1,200 new cases of heart failure were diagnosed.
Researchers found the following six healthy lifestyle factors were each
associated with a lower risk of heart failure:
• Normal body weight
• Never smoking
• Regular exercise
• Moderate alcohol use
• Diet that includes eating
breakfast cereals regularly
• Diet rich in fruits and
The more healthy lifestyle factors the men had, the lower their risk of
heart failure became.
“For example, the lifetime risk for heart failure was approximately 1 in 5
(21.2%) in men adhering to none of the desirable lifestyle factors, compared to
1 in 10 (10.1%) in those adhering to four or more healthy lifestyle factors,”
write Luc Djousse, MD, ScD, MPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and