80% of Heart Attacks Could Be Avoided If Everyone Did These 5 Easy Things
Heart disease claims the lives of about 1 million Americans every year, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women. The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to a heart attack.
This year alone, 920,000 Americans will have a heart attack, and close to half of them will occur suddenly without any prior warning signs.1
A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of your heart becomes blocked. This is often the result of plaque build-up inside your arteries (atherosclerosis), which may rupture and form a blood clot that blocks blood flow.
If the blockage isn’t cleared quickly, a portion of your heart muscle will begin to die and be replaced with scar tissue, which can cause severe problems in the future.
For instance, a previous heart attack (especially if a large area of your heart was damaged) is a risk factor for sudden cardiac arrest,2 which is caused by abnormal heart rhythms and can be fatal.
5 Lifestyle Changes Could Prevent 80 Percent of Heart Attacks
It’s remarkable that heart attacks are so common and cause so much pain (emotional and physical) and disability when they are nearly always preventable. You’re probably already aware that your lifestyle plays a role in your risk of heart disease (and heart attacks), but perhaps you’ve not yet taken it to heart…
If you need some motivation, consider a new study conducted at the Karolinska Institute. It found that engaging in five healthy lifestyle habits could prevent nearly 80 percent of first-time heart attacks in men. Even the researchers were surprised at how powerful a healthy lifestyle could be, noting:3
“It is not surprising that healthy lifestyle choices would lead to a reduction in heart attacks… What is surprising is how drastically the risk dropped due to these factors.”
Still, this isn’t the first time such a drastic risk reduction has been uncovered. The 2004 INTERHEART study, which looked at heart disease risk factors in over 50 countries around the world, found that 90 percent of heart disease cases are completely preventable by modifying diet and lifestyle factors.4
Unfortunately, most people are not using lifestyle habits to their advantage. The featured study involved men aged 45 to 79… and only 1 percent of them engaged in all five of the “low-risk” behaviors that could prevent a heart attack. So what are the five healthy lifestyle habits?
- A healthy diet
- Being physically active (walking/bicycling ≥40 min/day and exercising ≥1 h/week)
- Healthy waist circumference (waist circumference <95 cm or 37.4 inches)
- Moderate alcohol consumption (10 to 30 g/day)
- No smoking