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Healthy Living Adds Fourteen Years to Your Life

If you have optimal heart health in middle age, you may live up to 14 years longer, free of cardiovascular disease, than your peers who have two or more cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study found that many people develop cardiovascular disease as they live into old age, but those with optimal risk factor levels live disease-free longer.

For the study, researchers pulled data from five different cohorts included in the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project and looked at the participants’ risk of all forms of fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular disease from ages 45, 55 and 65 through 95 years of age. All participants were free of CVD at entry into the study and data on the following risk factors was collected: blood pressure, total cholesterol, diabetes and smoking status. The primary outcome measure for the study was any CVD event (including fatal and nonfatal coronary heart disease, all forms of stroke, congestive heart failure, and other CVD deaths).

The results found that individuals with optimal risk factor profiles lived up to 14 years longer free of total CVD than individuals with at least two risk factors. Men in middle age had a lifetime risk of approximately 60% of developing cardiovascular disease while the risk for women was 56%. Lifetime risks for cardiovascular disease were strongly associated with risk factor burden in middle age.

Wilkins J T et al. Lifetime Risk and Years Lived Free of Total Cardiovascular Disease. JAMA, 2012; 308(17):1795-801. doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.14312.

Categories: Healthy Aging, Metabolic Health