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Middle-Age Heart Risk Factors Shorten Men's Lives
Date:9/17/2009

Smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol cut 10 years of life, study finds,,

THURSDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged men with risk factors for heart disease such as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are taking 10 to 15 years off their lives compared to men without these troubles, British researchers say.

Although death from heart disease has been declining, in part due to better control of cardiovascular risk factors and better care, this is the first study that looks at death from heart disease in terms of life expectancy, the researchers said.

"The good news is that all of us can make changes to live a healthy life," said lead researcher Dr. Robert Clarke, a reader in epidemiology at University of Oxford. "Those changes, we now know, can translate into a 10- to 15-year difference in life expectancy."

Although not the subject of this study, Clarke suspects the same lessons would apply to women.

The report is published in the Sept. 18 online edition of the British Medical Journal.

For the study, a team led by Clarke, a reader in epidemiology at the University of Oxford, collected data on nearly 19,000 men ranging from 49 to 69 years of age. The men all participated in what's known as the Whitehall Study and were first evaluated between 1967-1970.

At the start of the study, the men completed a questionnaire that included questions about their medical history, smoking, employment and marital status. In addition, height, weight, blood pressure, lung function, cholesterol and blood sugar levels were also measured.

After about 28 years of follow-up, 7,044 surviving men were examined again in 1997.

When the study began, 42 percent of the men smoked, 39 percent had high blood pressure and 51 percent had high cholesterol. By 1997, about two-thirds had stopped smoking and their blood pressure and cholesterol levels had also dropped, the resea
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