I thought this was a great article as we enter the holidays, and then on to a new year. I'm 45 and this hits home with me. We all have the opportunity at a second chance if we haven't been completely dedicated to living healthy. As someone who has spent a good portion of my medical career taking care of chronically ill and hospice patients, there are things that we can do to prevent outcomes by the way we choose to live our lives. That's just it, it's about choices and our ability to be in control of our health. I hope you find this article valuable, and it inspires you to new healthy changes in your life. Take care, Dave.
Worried about your unhealthy lifestyle? Don't! You can REVERSE the effects of smoking and poor diet if you ditch the bad habits by 50
- Researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago based their findings on a study of 5,000 people
- They tracked people's lifestyles and measured the health of their arteries
- They found a quarter of people added one healthy habit as they got older
- The effects of bad habits adopted in early adulthood, such as a poor diet and smoking, can be controlled and reversed if action is taken by 50, they said
- But the scientists warned that healthy people who pick up extra bad habits as they age have a detrimental impact on their arteries
Adults can reverse the negative effects of heart disease by dropping unhealthy habits in their 30s and 40s, scientists claim. A new study suggests that eating a healthier diet and doing more exercise can control and potentially even reverse the natural progression of coronary artery disease. But the researchers warned that picking up extra bad habits as you get older will have a detrimental impact on your arteries.
A new study suggests that if people make healthy changes to their lifestyle in their 30s and 40s, they can control and potentially even reverse the natural progression of coronary artery disease (illustrated)
‘It’s not too late,’ said Bonnie Spring, lead investigator of the study and a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
‘You’re not doomed if you’ve hit young adulthood and acquired some bad habits. You can still make a change and it will have a benefit for your heart.’
However, according to the study, which was published in the journal Circulation, if people drop healthy habits or pick up more bad habits as they age, there is measurable, detrimental impact on their coronary arteries.
CORONARY HEART DISEASE
Coronary heart disease kills around 82,000 people in the UK each year. About one in five men and one in eight women die from the disease. There are an estimated 2.7million people living with the condition. As well as angina - chest pain - the main symptoms of heart disease are heart attacks and heart failure. Coronary heart disease describes what happens when the heart's blood supply is blocked by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. Over time, the walls of the arteries become 'furred up,' in a process called atherosclerosis. This can be caused by smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. ‘If you don’t keep up a healthy lifestyle, you’ll see the evidence in terms of your risk of heart disease,’ Professor Spring said.
Scientists based their research on 5,000 participants of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which examined people’s lifestyle behaviors as well as coronary artery calcification and thickening between the ages of 18 and 30 – and 20 years later. The healthy lifestyle factors assessed were: not being overweight or obese, being a non-smoker, being physically active and eating healthily without drinking much alcohol. At the beginning of the study when the participants were young adults, less than 10 per cent of people reported all five healthy lifestyle behaviours. At the 20-year mark, around one quarter of the participants had added at least one healthy lifestyle behavior. Increasing healthy lifestyle factors were linked with reduced odds of detectable coronary artery calcification and lower intima-media thickness, which are two major markers of cardiovascular disease that can predict future cardiovascular events. ‘This finding is important because it helps to debunk two myths held by some health care professionals,’ said Professor Spring. ‘The first is that it’s nearly impossible to change patients’ behaviors. Yet, we found that 25 per cent of adults made healthy lifestyle changes on their own.
Professor Bonnie Spring said: 'You're not doomed if you've hit young adulthood and acquired some bad habits. You can still make a change and it will have a benefit for your heart'
PROFESSOR SPRING’S HEALTHY LIFESTYLE TIPS
- Keep a healthy body weight
- Don’t smoke
- Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity five times a week
- No more than one alcoholic drink a day for women, no more than two for men
- Eat a healthy diet, high in fiber, low in sodium with lots of fruit and vegetables
‘The second myth is that the damage has already been done - adulthood is too late for healthy lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of developing coronary artery disease.
'Clearly, that’s incorrect. 'Adulthood is not too late for healthy behavior changes to help the heart.’
While some participants in the study became healthier in their lifestyle choices, 40 per cent of the sample dropped healthy habits and acquired more bad habits as they aged.‘That loss of healthy habits had a measurable negative impact on their coronary arteries,’ Professor Spring said.
Increasing healthy lifestyle factors were linked with reduced odds of detectable coronary artery calcification and lower intima-media thickness, which are two major markers of cardiovascular disease that can predict future cardiovascular events. An illustration of a thickened and hardened artery is pictured, ‘Each decrease in healthy lifestyle factors led to greater odds of detectable coronary artery calcification and higher intima-media thickness. 'Adulthood isn’t a “safe period” when one can abandon healthy habits without doing damage to the heart. 'A healthy lifestyle requires upkeep to be maintained.'
Professor Spring said the healthy changes people in the study made are attainable and sustainable.
She thinks that people can maintain a good lifestyle by not smoking, keeping a healthy body weight, doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week and eating a healthy diet that is high in fibre and low in salt, with lots of fruit and vegetables. She said that women should limit themselves to one alcoholic drink a day and men, a maximum of two drinks.