The secret to a long life? 80% of men could avoid a heart attack with just four simple lifestyle changes
- Not smoking, taking exercise and drinking in moderation key to reducing risk
- Healthy diet and having a waist measuring below 37 inches also crucial
- Giving up each individual bad habit lowers the risk of heart attacks
- Reduced risk was observed even in men who took medication
Four out of five men could avoid a heart attack if they give up cigarettes, cut back on alcohol, eat a healthy diet and exercise, a new study has warned.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle may could dramatically reduce the risk of early death - and giving up each individual bad habit lowers the risk.
The younger the men change, the more protection against heart attacks they accrue, Swedish researchers found.
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Four out of five men could reduce their risk of heart attacks by making lifestyle changes like stopping smoking, taking exercise, switching to a healthy diet and drinking alcohol moderately, Swedish researchers found
Men with the optimum lifestyle were non-smokers who walked or cycled for at least 40 minutes per day, exercised at least one hour per week and had a waist circumference below 37 inches.
They also drank moderate amounts of alcohol, and ate a diet packed with fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, reduced-fat dairy products, whole grains and fish.
The study followed 20,721 healthy Swedish men aged 45 to 79 over 11 years.
Their belly fat was measured and they were questioned about their lifestyle.
The study found a clear reduction in risk for heart attack for each individual lifestyle factor the participants tackled.
For example, having a healthy or low-risk diet, together with a moderate alcohol consumption, led to an estimated 35 per cent lower risk of heart attack compared to the high-risk group, who adopted none of the low-risk behaviours.
WHAT MEN SHOULD BE AIMING FOR
Men who combined the low-risk diet and moderate alcohol consumption with not smoking, being physically active and having a low amount of abdominal fat, reduced the risk by 86 per cent.
Researchers found similar results in men with hypertension and high cholesterol levels.
Professor Agneta Akesson, from the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said: 'It is not surprising that healthy lifestyle choices would lead to a reduction in heart attacks.
'What is surprising is how drastically the risk dropped due to these factors.'
The study also found even in those who take medication, an additional reduction in risk for chronic heart disease has been observed in those with a healthy lifestyle.
Professor Akesson said: 'It is important to note that these lifestyle behaviours are modifiable, and changing from high-risk to low-risk behaviours can have great impact on cardiovascular health.
'However, the best thing one can do is to adopt healthy lifestyle choices early in life.'
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Men with the optimum lifestyle walked or cycled for 40 minutes a day, and the younger the men changed their behaviour, the more protection against heart attacks they accrued