Healthy Diet And Lifestyle Behaviors Associated With Decreased Risk Of Heart Attack In Women
Women who eat
a healthy diet, drink moderate amounts of alcohol, are physically
active, maintain a healthy weight and do not smoke have a significantly
reduced risk of heart attack, according to a new report in the Archives
of Internal Medicine.
heart disease is the most important cause of death and disability in
women," the authors wrote. "Despite a lower incidence in women,
coronary heart disease -- related mortality and the percentage of
sudden deaths from coronary heart disease without previous symptoms is
higher and the trend of decline in incidence is slower than in men."
Akesson, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, and
colleagues identified dietary patterns in 24,444 postmenopausal women
by analyzing food frequency questionnaires, on which the women supplied
information about how often they ate 96 common foods.
four major dietary patterns: 'healthy' (vegetables, fruits and
legumes), 'Western' (red meat, processed meat, poultry, rice, pasta,
eggs, fried potatoes and fish), 'alcohol' (wine, liquor, beer and some
snacks) and 'sweets' (sweet baked goods, candy, chocolate, jam and ice
cream)," the authors wrote. Participants also answered questions about
education, family history, health status, use of medications, body
measurements and physical activity. When they enrolled in the study in
1997, none of the women had heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
average of 6.2 years of follow-up, 308 women had a new myocardial
infarction (heart attack); 51 of these cases were fatal. Two diet types
-- "healthy" and "alcohol" -- were associated with a reduced risk for
diet (high scores for the healthy dietary pattern) characterized by a
high intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish and legumes, in
combination with moderate alcohol consumption (5 grams of alcohol per
day or less), along with the three low-risk lifestyle behaviors [not
smoking, having a waist-hip ratio of less than the 75th percentile and
being physically active], was associated with 92 percent decreased risk
compared with findings in women without any low-risk diet and lifestyle
factors," the authors write. "This combination of healthy behaviors,
present in 5 percent, may prevent 77 percent of myocardial infarctions
in the study population."
components of fruits, vegetables and whole grains -- including fiber,
antioxidant vitamins and minerals -- have been associated with a
reduced risk for coronary heart disease, the researchers note. In
addition, previous studies have found beneficial effects of small
amounts of alcohol in preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries,
which could help prevent heart attacks.
findings indicate that healthy dietary behaviors are present in the
population," the authors conclude. "These dietary behaviors together
with a healthy lifestyle and body weight mayprevent most myocardial
For more information on Archives of Internal Medicine, visit http://archinte.ama-assn.org