While heart disease is one of the top killers of Americans, the number of cases has actually been on the decline recently. Despite this supposed downward trend, cases of heart disease in young women have stabilized. One possible explanation for this lack of
further decline in heart disease cases in young women could be related to lifestyle choices.
A new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology explored this issue by evaluating the proportion of heart disease cases and cardiovascular risk factors among young women that may be related to poor diet and other lifestyle choices.
88,940 younger women between the ages of 27 and 44 were followed between 1991 and 2011.
Lifestyle habits were determined by self-reported questionnaires.
A “healthy lifestyle” was defined by: 1) non-smoker; 2) “normal” BMI; 3) being physically active for at least 2.5 hours per week; 4) watching TV for less than 7 hours per week; 5) eating a healthy diet (i.e. in the top 40% of Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 scores); and 6) consuming between 0.1 and 14.9g/day of alcohol.
Proportion of heart disease and risk factors (inc. diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia) were calculated.
- 456 total heart disease cases were found at the end of the study.
- Not smoking, healthy BMI, exercise frequency, and a healthy diet were all independently and significantly associated with lower cardiovascular/heart disease risk.
- 73% of heart disease cases were associated with poor lifestyle choices (or in other words, poor adherence to a healthy lifestyle).
- 46% of cardiovascular/heart disease risk factors were associated with poor lifestyle choices.
The results of this study show that young women who adhere to a
healthy lifestyle are significantly less likely to have heart disease or risk factors associated with heart disease.
Not smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercise were all significant in keeping heart disease and heart disease risk factors at bay for the near 90,000 younger women in this study.
Simple good lifestyle choices can go a long way in reducing a younger woman’s risk for heart disease.
Chomistek, A.K., Chiuve, S.E., Eliassen, A.H., Mukamal, K.J., Willett, W.C., and Rimm, E.B. 2015. Healthy lifestyle in the primordial prevention of cardiovascular disease among young women. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 65(1): 43-51.