It's not news that living a healthy lifestyle makes you healthier in the long term. But a new study proves just how much that's true.
The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that three quarters of heart attacks among women could be prevented by healthy habits.
Researchers at Indiana University, Harvard, and Brigham and Women's Hospital followed 70,000 women from age 27 to 44 over 20 years, and documented when any of them were diagnosed with heart disease. Every two years, they checked in on their lifestyle habits.
Women with these six habits had a 92 percent lower risk of having a heart attack, and were 66 percent less likely to develop risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes:
- Not smoking
- Consuming no more than one alcoholic beverage per day
- Maintaining a normal BMI (between 18.5 and 24.9)
- Exercising at least 2.5 hours every week (or a little over 20 minutes every day)
- Eating lots of whole grains and vegetables, but cutting back on red meat, refined grains, and sugar
- Watching TV for fewer than 7 hours each week
Did that last one surprise anybody else? We think it's because watching TV equates to inactive time (and also, let's face it, wine consumption—you can't watch Scandal or The Good Wife without a glass of red in hand, it's basically a law).
The good news? Overall, deaths from heart disease are on the decline. But that's actually not the case among younger women, who have seen these rates plateau in recent years. And that might be because of how we live our lives.
"This is an important public health message," lead author Andrewa K. Chomistek said in a press release. "Women should begin following these lifestyle practices early in life."
Sorry, Scandal. We still love you.
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