Healthy Lifestyle Choices May Reduce Lifetime Risk of Heart Failure

Boston, MA – Heart failure occurs in an average 550,000 people each year in the United States. The lifetime risk of heart failure - the risk of ever developing heart failure during one’s remaining lifetime before dying from other causes - at 40 years of age is approximately one in five. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that men who followed a number of healthy lifestyle factors may reduce their risk of heart failure to one in ten. This research appears in the July 22, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Online PR News – 07-August-2009 – – “Previous relationships between various lifestyle factors and predictors of heart failure have been established,” said Luc Djoussé, MD, ScD, MPH, of the Department of Medicine at BWH, and lead study author. “But little was known about the joint contribution of these factors on the reduction of lifetime risk of heart failure.”
In a study of 20,900 healthy men from the Physicians’ Health Study I, researchers found that healthy men who had normal body weight, never smoked, got regular exercise, drank alcohol in moderation, and consumed breakfast cereal and fruits and vegetables lowered their lifetime risk of heart failure. A greater number of healthy lifestyle factors was associated with an increasingly dimished lifetime risk of heart failure, compared to men adhering to none of the six measured factors at highest lifetime risk, and those adhering to four or more at lowest lifetime risk.
During the follow-up more than 22 years after the study began, 1200 men had developed heart failure, and the overall risk of heart failure for the entire group was about one in seven for ages 40 years through age 70 years, with the risk dropping once men reached aged 80. Lifetime risk of heart failure was also found to be higher in men with hypertension than in those without hypertension.
“We know that hypertension is a contributing risk factor for heart failure,” said Dr. Djoussé. “However, we found that adhering to the specific lifestyle factors such as healthy body weight, not smoking, and regular exercise was associated with a lower lifetime risk of heart failure in the overall population and in men with hypertension, as well as those without hypertension.”
“By identifying a number of modifiable lifestyle factors, we can arm patients and physicians with targeted habits to help reduce the occurence of heart disease,” said Dr. Djoussé, noting the need for additional investigation into the effects of these factors on other populations.
The Physicians’ Health Study is supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

About Brigham and Women's Hospital:-
Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) is a 777-bed nonprofit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of Partners HealthCare, an integrated health care delivery system. BWH is committed to excellence in patient care with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery. The BWH medical preeminence dates back to 1832, and today that rich history in clinical care is coupled with its national leadership in quality improvement and patient safety initiatives and its dedication to educating and training the next generation of health care professionals. In July 2008, the hospital opened the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, the most advanced center of its kind. Through investigation and discovery conducted at its Biomedical Research Institute (BRI), BWH is an international leader in basic, clinical and translational research on a diversity of human diseases and is at the forefront of personalized medicine. BWH has approximately 900 scientific investigators and more than $450 million in research support, more than 50 percent of which comes from the NIH. BWH is also home to major landmark population studies, including the Nurses' and Physicians' Health Studies and the Women's Health Initiative, which have provided important information on diet and lifestyle risk factors for common chronic diseases. For more information about BWH, please visit