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Heart Health in Middle Age May Affect Overall Health Later in Life

Many people don’t worry about their heart health until it becomes an issue, but a recent study suggests they should start focusing on it when they hit middle age. According to the study, having good cardiovascular health in middle age may result in living longer and staying healthy longer.


Participants in the study included 25,804 people who were at least 65 by the year 2010 and took part in the Chicago Heart Association Detection Project in Industry. The final cohort was 65% of the original study group. They were between 18 and 74 when they were recruited between 1967 and 1973.


At the beginning of the study, the researchers measured blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, body mass index, and smoking. The participants were then placed into one of four classifications based on cardiovascular health: favorable levels of all factors (6%), zero factors high but greater than or equal to zero elevated risk factors (19%), one high risk factor (40%), and greater than or equal to two high risk factors (35%). The researchers used Medicare health records to follow the participants for approximately 40 years.


The researchers noted that only 5.6% of the participants had all favorable factors at age 44.


The researchers compared the data of those with all favorable factors with those who had two or more high-risk factors in middle age and found those with all favorable factors lived an average 3.9 years longer, survived 4.5 years longer before developing a chronic illness, spent 22% fewer of their later years with a chronic illness, and saved close to $18,000 in Medicare costs.


When the researchers looked specifically at the 18,714 participants who reached age 65 without having a heart attack, stroke, or congestive heart failure, they found that those who had all favorable risk factors lived 6.9 years longer without heart disease and spent 4.5% fewer of their later years without heart disease.


Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine conducted the study. It was published on May 1, 2017, in the journal Circulation.


Maintaining good cardiovascular health throughout a person’s life relies on living a holistically healthy life. Previous studies suggest that consuming more omega-3s, whey protein, magnesium, and vitamin C may help contribute to good heart health.

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