Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Is heart disease genetic destiny or lifestyle?

From a November 15, 2010 Eureka Alert

2 studies confirm a healthy lifestyle has biggest impact on cardiovascular health

CHICAGO — Is cardiovascular health in middle age and beyond a gift from your genes or is it earned by a healthy lifestyle and within your control?

Two large studies from Northwestern Medicine confirm a healthy lifestyle has the biggest impact on cardiovascular health. One study shows the majority of people who adopted healthy lifestyle behaviors in young adulthood maintained a low cardiovascular risk profile in middle age. The five most important healthy behaviors are not smoking, low or no alcohol intake, weight control, physical activity and a healthy diet. The other study shows cardiovascular health is due primarily to lifestyle factors and healthy behavior, not heredity.

The studies will be presented Nov. 15 at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2010 in Chicago.

[Nice small image library for the media may be found here]

“Health behaviors can trump a lot of your genetics,” said Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., chair and professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a staff cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “This research shows people have control over their heart health. The earlier they start making healthy choices, the more likely they are to maintain a low-risk profile for heart disease.”…

….Why Many Healthy Young Adults Become High Risk

The first Northwestern Medicine study investigated why most young adults, who have a low-risk profile for heart disease, often tip into the high-risk category by middle age with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and excess weight.

The unhealthy shift is the result of lifestyle, the study found. More than half of the young adults who followed the five healthy lifestyle factors for 20 years were able to maintain their low-risk profile for heart disease though middle age. (The five healthy lifestyle factors are not smoking, low or no alcohol intake, weight control, physical activity and a healthy diet.)….

….Both Northwestern Medicine studies build on previous research from the department of preventive medicine that has provided the core for the national definition of cardiovascular health over the past decade, noted Lloyd-Jones.

“We really need to encourage individuals to improve their behavior and lifestyle and create a public health environment so people can make healthy choices,” Lloyd-Jones said. “We need to make it possible for people to walk more and safely in their neighborhoods and buy fresh affordable fruit and vegetables in the local grocery store. We need physical activity back in schools, widely applied indoor smoking bans and reduced sodium content in the processed foods we eat. We also need to educate people to reduce their calorie intake. It’s a partnership between individuals making behavior changes but also public health changes that will improve the environment and allow people to make those healthy choices.”

Related Web sites

 

November 16, 2010 - Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | ,

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