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Health experts and dietitians always recommend good lifestyle changes and healthy eating habits especially for those suffering from cardiovascular diseases, pregnant women and obese people.
A new study has found that adults can lower their heart disease risk by adopting healthy habits.
Factors like eating unhealthy foods including the junk and fatty items, cigarette smoking or alcohol consumption and lack of exercise or being a couch potato lead to heart disease risk in old age.
According to the researchers at the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, the adults in their 30s or 40s can slow down and even reverse progression of coronary artery diseases by adopting good habits and bringing healthy changes in their lifestyle.
Moreover, the researchers also cautioned against picking up unhealthy habits during early adulthood as they say this can increase heart problems in old age.
“It’s not too late. 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,” said lead study author Bonnie Spring, who is a professor of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
To establish the hypothesis, the researchers used data from 5,000 participants who were part of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA). The heart health of the participants was assessed at baseline when they were about 18 to 30-year-old. It was recorded again 20 years later.
The researchers tried to find out the association between healthy living and coronary artery calcification and thickening.
A healthy lifestyle was calculated on the following factors in the study:
- Not being overweight
- Being physically active
- Having low alcohol intake and a healthy diet
In the beginning of the study, about 10 percent of participants reported all five healthy behaviors. But the condition was different 20 years later. When the participants’ heart health was calculated, it was found that at least 25 percent of the CARDIA participants had adopted one habit that was good for their physical health.
According to the researchers, each additional healthy habit was linked with reduction in risk of detectable coronary artery calcification and lower intima-media thickness, which are considered to be the two major markers that predict future heart disease risk.
About 40 percent of participants picked up unhealthy lifestyle habits, which increased their risk of developing a heart disease.
Spring said in a news release, “This finding is important because it helps to debunk two myths held by some health care professionals. The first is that it’s nearly impossible to change patients’ behaviors. Yet, we found that 25 percent of adults made healthy lifestyle changes on their own. The second myth is that the damage has already been done – adulthood is too late for healthy lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of developing coronary artery disease. Clearly, that’s incorrect. Adulthood is not too late for healthy behavior changes to help the heart.”
The study, which was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institutes of Health, is published in the journal Circulation.