Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Martha's Minute: Heart Disease Prevention Tips

6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Heart disease prevention tips save US lives - study

Prevention efforts such as losing weight, kicking the smoking habit, lowering cholesterol and taking an aspirin a day could cut heart attacks in the United States by 36 percent and strokes by 20 percent in the next three decades, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

"It's literally millions of lives saved," said Dr. Rose Marie Robertson, chief science officer of the American Heart Association and co-author of the report, which appears in the journal Circulation.

"The results show not only can we prolong peoples' lives but we can really prolong quality life by preventing these things from happening," Robertson said in a telephone interview. Robertson said 78 percent of U.S. adults aged 20-80 could benefit from at least one of these prevention activities.
The report was based on a mathematical model that used data from a national survey of health and nutrition to project the effects of prevention efforts on the entire U.S. population over a 30-year period. It is a joint effort of the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association.

It builds on a wealth of studies that suggest people can make changes to improve their health and prolong their lives. A team of British researchers recently found people who drink moderately, exercise, quit smoking and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables each day live 14 years longer than people who do none of those things.

Robertson and colleagues looked specifically at ways to prevent heart disease. They found that if followed to their full potential, 11 prevention measures could add 220 million years of life to the U.S. population over the next 30 years, or an average of 1.3 years of life expectancy for each adult in the United States. "If every individual achieved 100 percent adherence with all the clinical prevention activities for which they are candidates, then heart attacks would decrease about 63 percent and strokes about 31 percent in the next three decades," Robertson said in a statement. Knowing that 100 percent adherence was unlikely, the researchers also calculated what would be feasible based on what has been achieved in clinical trials. "Under those conditions, heart attacks would drop by 36 percent and strokes by 20 percent in the same period," Robertson said. People with diabetes would benefit the most from these prevention strategies, the researchers found.

Strategies with the biggest heart health impact come from taking low-dose aspirin, controlling pre-diabetes, weight loss in the obese, lowering blood pressure in people with diabetes, and lowering low-density lipid cholesterol, the so-called "bad" cholesterol, in people with existing coronary artery disease.
The researchers said the findings suggest more resources need to be focused on prevention efforts. "The benefits are too important to be ignored," Robertson said in a statement.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly 24 million people in the United States have diabetes, which is the seventh-leading cause of death.

Last Updated: 2008-07-07 16:22:20 -0400 (Reuters Health)

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