A healthy lifestyle started early can lead to hale and hearty old age for women—with an emphasis on the hearty part, according to a study that tracked nearly 90,000 nurses from 1991 until 2011.
Indiana University researchers looked at six factors known to affect health: smoking, diet, physical activity, television watching, BMI, and alcohol consumption. They found that adherence to a healthy lifestyle drastically lowers coronary heart disease (CHD) and the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Their results were published in January in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The nurses with the healthiest lifestyle were 90% less likely to experience heart disease than women with the least healthy lifestyles. Part of the reason the researchers conducted this study was that while overall mortality rates from CHD have declined in the last four decades, the drop among people ages 35 to 54 has been smaller. In fact, the researchers note that the mortality rate from heart disease among women ages 35 to 44 years increased an average of 1.3% per year between 1997 and 2002.