Whole Heart

How to Slash Your Heart Disease Risk by 83%

The more healthy "factors" in your lifestyle equation, the lower the risk.
Your genes don't ordain heart disease. Researchers are learning more about the lifestyle factors that predict heart health, and these are in your hands. A Harvard study of nearly 85,000 women identified these five healthy habits.

  1. Don't smoke.
  2. Drink at least half a glass of wine, or equivalent alcohol consumption, each day (but not more than a full glass, experts say).
  3. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity daily.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Eat a healthy diet. It should be low in trans fats but high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and folate; it should also have a lower glycemic load and a higher polyunsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio.

When three of the five healthy lifestyle factors above were present, risk for coronary heart disease over 14 years was reduced by 57%; when four were present, risk was reduced by 66%; and when all five factors were present, risk was reduced by 83%, the study found.

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Last Updated: April 22, 2008

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