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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Five ways women can prevent a heart attack

When it comes to scary diseases, breast cancer tops them all for most women. But the reality is that heart disease is a bigger killer.

Now a new study from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden concludes that if women make just five lifestyle changes, a stunning 92 percent of heart attacks could be avoided.

Five ways women can prevent a heart attack:

1. Eat right.
2. Drink a moderate amount of alcohol daily.
3. Stay physically active.
4. Maintain a healthy weight.
5. Don't smoke.

The study: Reuters Health reports that the study, which was led by Dr. Agneta Akesson, focused on the dietary and lifestyle patterns of 24,444 postmenopausal women, all of whom were enrolled in a clinical trial in 1997 and none of whom had heart disease, diabetes or cancer. The women completed "food frequency" questionnaires, noting how often they ate 96 different foods. They also provided their family history of heart disease, education level, physical activity and body measurements.

From the data, the Swedish researchers identified four major dietary patterns:

* Healthy (vegetables, fruits and legumes)
* Western/Swedish (red meat, processed meat, poultry, rice, pasta, eggs, fried potatoes and fish)
* Alcohol (wine, liquor, beer and some snacks)
* Sweets (sweet baked goods, candy, chocolate, jam and ice cream)

The results: During the six-year follow-up period, 308 women had heart attacks. Two types of dietary patterns were significantly associated with a decreased risk of heart attack: healthy and alcohol.

This led the research team to conclude that women who eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish and legumes and drink a moderate amount of alcohol a day, have a 57 percent lower risk of having a first heart attack.

That protection soars to a 92 percent lower risk when women combine that healthy diet and moderate alcohol consumption with physical activity, a healthy weight and no smoking.

The study findings were reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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via |Biology.it