Due to the results of a recent study, researchers stress that people can save a lot of money and preserve their well-being by living a healthy lifestyle. The study examined various aspects of healthy living as well as the rates by which men experienced myocardial infarction (MI) or a heart attack.
An estimated 1.5 million cases of MI occur in the U.S. each year. This condition leaves the muscle tissue in the heart irreversibly damaged, according to Medscape.
The study's aim was to examine the benefit of a combined low-risk diet with healthy lifestyle practices on MI occurrences in men. To explore this goal, the researchers reviewed detailed questionnaires filled out by men regarding their diets and lifestyles.
Medical records were also examined, which included checking the men's history for cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and high cholesterol levels. The participants included more than 20,000 Swedish men ages 45 to 79, whom were observed over an 11-year period.
Low-risk behaviors included five factors: a healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking, frequent exercise and having no abdominal adiposity, or excessive belly fat.
Almost four out of five men could have prevented their heart attacks by practicing low-risk behaviors
Published Sept. 22 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the results revealed that 166 of 1,724 men who did not practice any of the five healthy behaviors had heart attacks. In addition, only 212 of the men practiced all five healthy behaviors, of which only three had heart attacks.
Based on the findings, the study's authors suggest that practicing all five healthy behaviors together could prevent 79% of first heart attacks in men. Beyond that, performing each behavior by itself could reduce the overall risk for a heart attack.
Eating a well-rounded diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, reduced dairy and healthy whole grains was associated with a nearly 20% when compared to those participants who didn't practice any of the healthy behaviors.
"People looking for a magic pill or a modern new technology to prevent heart disease need to be reminded how important lifestyle factors are," said Dr. R. Curtis Ellison, professor of medicine and public health at Boston University School of Medicine.
Practicing healthy habits can save you A LOT of money in the long run, scientists stress
Experts say while it is uncommon to die of a first heart attack, those cases typically suffer from more heart problems in the future, highlighting that preventing the first one is incredibly crucial, according to a U.S. News & World Report.
"The study also adds to the potential dramatic reduction in cardiovascular events and deaths and the cost savings that would occur with a primordial prevention population approach to lifestyle beginning in childhood and continuing into adulthood," noted researchers.
The study's lead author Agneta Akesson added, "there is a lot to gain and money to be saved if people had a healthier lifestyle."
Unfortunately, less than 2% of the American population actually practices what is defined as "ideal cardiovascular health." Another reminder that eating processed foods filled with synthetic ingredients, toxic preservatives and artificial flavors does not come without a price.
Despite Big Pharma's advertisements, a pill cannot cure damaged caused by living an unhealthy lifestyle, particularly when heart damage has occurred.
"It is important to note that these lifestyle behaviors are modifiable, and changing from high-risk to low-risk behaviors can have great impact on cardiovascular health," said Akesson. "However, the best thing one can do is to adopt healthy lifestyle choices early in life."