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Lifestyle Changes Later in Life May Dramatically Reduce Risk of Heart Failure

Heart failure is the number one cause of hospitalization in people over the age of 65. Fortunately there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing heart failure. A recent study suggests that making certain lifestyle changes could cut the risk of developing heart failure in half for people over the age of 65.


Participants in the study included 4,490 men and women who were age 65 or older and did not initially have signs of heart failure. They were followed for as long as 21.5 years, during which time their diet, walking, leisure activities, exercise intensity, alcohol use, smoking, weight, height, waist circumference, and heart health were tracked. The researchers used questionnaires and physical exams throughout the study period. During that time period, 1,380 heart failure cases were recorded.


After analyzing the data, the researchers found that those who walked at a pace of two miles per hour or more had a lower risk of developing heart failure than those who did not walk that fast. They also found that doing leisure activities that burned at least 845 calories per week, not smoking, modest alcohol intake of not more than one to two drinks per day, and not being obese were all associated with a lower risk of heart failure.


They also found that people who did four or more of those healthy behaviors were at a 50% lower risk of developing heart failure than those who didn’t do any of the heart healthy activities or did only one.


The researchers also looked at four different dietary patterns and found no connection between dietary patterns and heart failure. Additionally, exercise intensity was found to not be as important as walking pace and leisure activity.


Researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy conducted the study. It was published in the July 2015 issue of JACC: Heart Failure.


In addition to these lifestyle changes, previous studies suggest that adding more vitamin D, antioxidants, and omega-3s to your diet may also help reduce the risk of heart failure.

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