Changing to a healthier lifestyle is great for your heart

Adopt a healthy lifestyle and the heart forgives indiscretions.

“It’s not too late,” says Bonnie Spring, lead investigator of the study and a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School Of Medicine in Chicago. “You’re not doomed if you’ve hit young adulthood and acquired some bad habits. You can still make a change and it will have a benefit for your heart.”

The study examined 5,000 adults who had participated in the “Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults” (CARDIA) study 20 years before, when they were between the ages of 18 and 30. Researchers from Northwestern Medicine assessed the lifestyle and coronary artery calcification levels of the former CARDIA participants, now between the ages of 38 and 50.

Healthy lifestyle was considered as not being obese or overweight, exercising regularly, not smoking and sticking to a healthy diet with a low alcohol intake. At the beginning of the CARDIA study, all five of these principles applied to less than 10% of participants. Twenty years later, 25% of them had added at least one of the aforementioned healthy behaviours.

Researchers concluded that each addition of a healthy behaviour was linked with reduced detectable coronary artery calcification and reduced thickness of the two innermost layers of arterial walls, both critical factors in evaluating cardiac health.

According to Spring, many healthcare professionals believe patients are unable to change their behaviour, and others believe the damage caused by smoking and other bad habits is irreversible. “Clearly, that’s incorrect,” says Spring. “Adulthood is not too late for healthy behaviour changes to help the heart.”

AFP Relaxnews.

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