Women who live a healthy lifestyle had as much as a 90% reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) when compared with women with a high-risk profile, data from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) showed.
Compared with women with none of the low-risk attributes, the risk of SCD declined linearly as the number of these attributes increased, ranging from a 46% reduction for a woman who had one to 92% for those who had all four.
About 80% of attributable risk for SCD was linked to four lifestyle factors included in the analysis: smoking, overweight, inactivity, and poor diet, according to an article in the July 6 issue of JAMA.
Because SCD accounts for more than 50% of CHD mortality, widespread adoption of a healthy lifestyle in the population could make a substantial impact on reaching the American Heart Association's 2020 Impact Goal of further lowering cardiovascular disease mortality.
Investigators defined a low-risk lifestyle as no smoking, BMI <25, at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, and top 40% of the alternate Mediterranean diet score. The diet emphasizes consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fish, and moderate alcohol consumption. See how to score yourself below.
Each of the four low-risk lifestyle factors had an independent, statistically significant association with a lower risk of SCD (P<0.001). Multivariable analysis showed that the magnitude of the risk reduction increased with the number of low-risk factors, as compared with women who had none of the traits: • 46% for one low-risk factor
How the alternate Mediterranean Diet score works:
One point each is given for intake at or above the sex-specific median intake for components considered to be healthy — vegetables (excluding potatoes), fruits, nuts, legumes, grains, fish, and monounsaturated-fat/saturated-fat ratio — and one point is given for intake less than the median for those components considered unhealthy (red and processed meat). In addition, one point is given for alcohol intake within a specified range (5-25 g/day).
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