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Women's Health

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5 Ways to Cut Women's Heart Attacks

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Can Slash Women's Heart Attack Risk by Up to 92%

Step by Step

Every heart-healthy habit helped prevent heart attacks in the women in Akesson's study.

For instance, women who ate healthfully and drank modestly were 57% less likely to have a heart attack than other women.

That's not as high as the 92% drop in heart attack risk for women who also didn't smoke, had a healthy waist-to-hip-ratio, and exercised regularly. But it's better than nothing.

The study appears in today's edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

How Exercise Helps the Heart

Another new study shows how exercise helps lower women's risk of heart problems.

Regular physical activity helps prevent heart attacks and other heart "events" in three ways:

Data for the study came from more than 27,000 healthy women aged 45 and older who were studied for nearly 11 years, on average.

During that time, 979 women had a heart "event" such as a heart attack, stroke, or coronary artery bypass.

Women who reported regular physical exercise were the least likely to have a heart "event" during the study, note the researchers.

They included Samia Mora, MD, MHS, of Harvard Medical School and Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. Their study appears online in the journal Circulation.

What About Men?

Akesson and Mora only studied women. But they expect that the general findings would also apply to men.

"I am convinced that men would benefit from a similar healthy diet and lifestyle as the women did in our study," Akesson tells WebMD.

More research is needed to see how closely the results match in men and women, Akesson adds.

Likewise, Mora tells WebMD via email that "there is no reason to believe that the findings would not also apply to men, but of course, further studies should be carried out in men."

"Data from previous studies have clearly shown that exercise and physical activity reduce cardiovascular events in both men and women (around 30% to 50% reduction in events with no substantial difference in gender)," Mora writes.

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