new study suggests that eating a healthier diet and doing more exercise
can control and potentially even reverse the natural progression of
coronary artery disease.
But the researchers warned that picking up extra bad habits as you get older will have a detrimental impact on your arteries.
A new study suggests that if people make healthy changes to their lifestyle in their 30s and 40s, they can control and potentially even reverse the natural progression of coronary artery disease (illustrated)
too late,’ said Bonnie Spring, lead investigator of the study and a
professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg
School of Medicine in Chicago.
not doomed if you’ve hit young adulthood and acquired some bad habits.
You can still make a change and it will have a benefit for your heart.’
However, according to the study, which was published in the journal Circulation, if people drop healthy habits or pick up more bad habits as they age, there is measurable, detrimental impact on their coronary arteries.
Coronary heart disease kills around 82,000 people in the UK each year.
About one in five men and one in eight women die from the disease.
There are an estimated 2.7million people living with the condition.
As well as angina - chest pain - the main symptoms of heart disease are heart attacks and heart failure.
heart disease describes what happens when the heart's blood supply is
blocked by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.
Over time, the walls of the arteries become 'furred up,' in a process called atherosclerosis.
This can be caused by smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
you don’t keep up a healthy lifestyle, you’ll see the evidence in terms
of your risk of heart disease,’ Professor Spring said.
Scientists based their research on 5,000 participants of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which examined people’s lifestyle behaviours as well as coronary artery calcification and thickening between the ages of 18 and 30 – and 20 years later.
lifestyle factors assessed were: not being overweight or obese, being a
non-smoker, being physically active and eating healthily without
drinking much alcohol.
the beginning of the study when the participants were young adults,
less than 10 per cent of people reported all five healthy lifestyle
At the 20-year mark, around one quarter of the participants had added at least one healthy lifestyle behaviour.
Increasing healthy lifestyle factors were linked with reduced odds of detectable coronary artery calcification and lower intima-media thickness, which are two major markers of cardiovascular disease that can predict future cardiovascular events.
‘This finding is important because it helps to debunk two myths held by some health care professionals,’ said Professor Spring.
first is that it’s nearly impossible to change patients’ behaviours.
Yet, we found that 25 per cent of adults made healthy lifestyle changes
on their own.
Professor Bonnie Spring said: 'You're not doomed if you've hit young adulthood and acquired some bad habits. You can still make a change and it will have a benefit for your heart'
myth is that the damage has already been done - adulthood is too late
for healthy lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of developing coronary
'Clearly, that’s incorrect.
'Adulthood is not too late for healthy behaviour changes to help the heart.’
some participants in the study became healthier in their lifestyle
choices, 40 per cent of the sample dropped healthy habits and acquired
more bad habits as they aged.
‘That loss of healthy habits had a measurable negative impact on their coronary arteries,’ Professor Spring said.
Increasing healthy lifestyle factors were linked with reduced odds of detectable coronary artery calcification and lower intima-media thickness, which are two major markers of cardiovascular disease that can predict future cardiovascular events. An illustration of a thickened and hardened artery is pictured
decrease in healthy lifestyle factors led to greater odds of detectable
coronary artery calcification and higher intima-media thickness.
'Adulthood isn’t a “safe period” when one can abandon healthy habits without doing damage to the heart.
'A healthy lifestyle requires upkeep to be maintained.'
Professor Spring said the healthy changes people in the study made are attainable and sustainable.
thinks that people can maintain a good lifestyle by not smoking,
keeping a healthy body weight, doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise
five times a week and eating a healthy diet that is high in fibre and
low in salt, with lots of fruit and vegetables.
She said that women should limit themselves to one alcoholic drink a day and men, a maximum of two drinks