Is a Healthy Lifestyle Linked to Decreased HF Risk in Women?

An increasingly healthy lifestyle has been found to be associated with decreasing heart failure (HF) risk among post-menopausal women, even in the absence of antecedent coronary heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, according to a study published Oct. 20 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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Led by primary author Golareh Agha, PhD, Department of Environment Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, the published analysis evaluated the effect of various combined lifestyle factors on the incident rate of heart failure. Drawing from 84,537 post-menopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study who were free of self-reported HF, Agha et al. created a healthy lifestyle score. Participating women were then awarded one point for each healthy criterion met: achieving a healthy diet, remaining physically active, maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) and not smoking.  Over a mean follow-up of 11 years, 1,826 cases of HF were recorded. The author’s healthy lifestyle score was found to have a strong relationship with the period’s incidence of HF, with the strongest associations observed for BMI and smoking.

“Given that certain lifestyle factors show stronger associations with risk of disease than others, simply adding the lifestyle factors when combining them may lead to misclassification due to heterogeneous people having the same healthy lifestyle-score,” writes Agha. “However, we found that the relative weighting of lifestyle factors did not have any impact on associations of healthy lifestyle with HF risk, suggesting that adopting an overall healthy lifestyle where these healthy lifestyle habits are integrated is optimal.”

The authors conclude that moving forward, “prevention strategies that place a higher emphasis on the combination and integration of healthy lifestyle habits may be of most benefit.”

As Paul Heidenreich, MD, FACC, Veterans Administration Palo Alto Healthcare System, adds in a coinciding editorial,  “if we can identify the important components of a healthy lifestyle, we can create incentives for patients to live a healthy life, reduce the incidence of disease, and lower health care costs.”

Keywords: Motivation, Life Style, Follow-Up Studies, Women's Health, Health Care Costs, United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Smoking, Body Mass Index, Postmenopause, Heart Failure, Diet, Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus

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