New US research has found that the longer an individual follows a heart healthy lifestyle during middle age, such as not smoking, eating a health diet, and exercising regularly, the less likely they are to develop diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and the lower their risk of death.
Carried out by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, the new study looked at 1,445 middle-aged adults with an average age of 60 and gave each a score for their cardiovascular health based on smoking status, diet, physical activity, resting blood pressure levels, body mass index, fasting blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels.
They were then followed for a period of around 16 years.
The researchers found that for every five-year period that participants had intermediate or ideal cardiovascular health, they were 14 percent less likely to die, compared to those individuals in poor cardiovascular health.
The findings, which are published online in the journal JAMA Cardiology, also showed that these participants also had a 33 percent reduced risk of developing high blood pressure and around a 25 percent reduced risk of developing diabetes, chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.
Although it is already known that certain unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, smoking for instance, are linked with a higher risk of disease and death, the researchers say that until now, no studies had looked at how maintaining a healthy lifestyle over a period of time could be linked with the risk of disease and mortality.
They now say that living in better cardiovascular health for longer during middle age could help lower risk of chronic disease or death later in life.
“Our results indicate that living a longer period of time in adulthood with better cardiovascular health may be potentially beneficial, regardless of age. Overall, our findings underscore the importance of promoting healthy behaviors throughout the life-course,” explained corresponding author Vanessa Xanthakis, Ph.D., FAHA.
“On the community-level, this will overall help reduce morbidity and mortality associated with diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and death during late adulthood,” the researchers add.