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Few Make Lifestyle Changes that Could Keep Their Heart Healthy
Date:11/15/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- New research shows that few Americans make the simple lifestyle changes that experts say could prevent most cases of heart disease.

In fact, one study of almost 18,000 people found that only .01 percent followed all seven health factors outlined by the American Heart Association (AHA) as critical for living long healthy lives.

The so-called "Life's Simple 7" were outlined by the AHA at the beginning of this year and are intended to reduce deaths from heart disease by 20 percent, while improving cardiovascular health by 20 percent over the next decade.

They are: don't smoke, maintain a body-mass index (BMI) within the normal range; exercise regularly; eat a healthy diet; and keep your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar low.

But most Americans just aren't making the grade, according to a number of studies presented Monday at the AHA's annual meeting in Chicago.

"We know that only one-third or so have a BMI of less than 25 percent, so you can eliminate that," said Dr. Robert Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver, and past president of the AHA. "Physical activity, many people are failing -- probably only 20 or 25 percent are meeting the goals of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise a week."

The latest research backs this claim up.

In the study of almost 18,000 adults, only 29 percent of black and white Americans had four or more of these factors at ideal levels, even though the study also found that having more of these lifestyle components under control meant fewer deaths at a younger age. Meeting five or more of the factors decreased mortality by 55 percent. Each added ideal health factor lowered the risk of dying by 18 percent over the four years of the trial.

A second study, this time of almost 80,000 healthy women, found
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