5 health tips cut risk of men's heart problems

Health and Fitness

September 08, 2006|By Bloomberg News

Five simple health tips may help prevent 62 percent of fatal cardiac events and heart attacks suffered by men, researchers said.

Men shouldn't smoke, become overweight under U.S. standards or have more than two alcoholic drinks a day, the study said. They should exercise at least 30 minutes daily, and follow federal food pyramid guidelines when they eat.

"A healthy lifestyle, defined by these five factors, is associated with lower risk of coronary heart disease, even when men are taking medication to lower their blood pressure or cholesterol," said lead author Stephanie Chiuve, a research fellow at Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Nutrition.

The study, published recently in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, is the first to examine the parallel benefits of these tips among men, including those who already face a higher risk of heart disease. Men were 87 percent less likely to develop heart disease if they followed the tips, researchers found.

They studied 42,847 men who were ages 40 to 75 and free of chronic diseases in 1986. During a 16-year follow-up period, 2,183 of the men had heart attacks or developed fatal heart disease.

The findings show that any effort to follow these health tips can help. While only 4 percent of participants met all five criteria, men who adopted at least two over time cut their risk of heart disease by 27 percent.

"You can still achieve significant benefit by making changes in middle age or later in life," Chiuve said.

Healthy eating in the study was calculated based on a scale that measures how close the men came to the recommended daily servings of protein, vegetables, fruits and cereals.

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