According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in every four deaths in the United States is due to heart disease. That makes heart disease the leading cause of death in the U.S.—for both men and women.
Given this, researchers are naturally keen on treating and preventing this devastating disease. Fortunately, a recent study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology has found that there are five lifestyle factors that can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease.
Researchers used the MORGEN study—a prospective cohort study of 8,128 men and 9,759 women between the ages of 20 and 65 who did not have cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. They noted five lifestyle factors that had been denoted through self-administered questionnaires that were taken between 1994 and 1997. There included:
- Physical activity (at least 3.5 hours a week of cycling or sports).
- Eating a healthy diet (ranking at least 5 on the Mediterranean Diet Score, which is based on the weekly consumption of nine food groups commonly associated with Mediterranean Diet, including whole grains, meats/poultry, full-fat dairy, fruit, vegetables, legumes, fish, and olives/olive oil.
- Moderate alcohol consumption (one or more drinks a month).
- No smoking.
- Sufficient sleep (at least seven hours a night).
Researchers also noted cardiovascular disease and death from heart disease in this population during the study period. In the 10 to 14 years of follow up, they found that 607 people had some sort of cardiovascular event, 129 of which were fatal.
In people who were physically active, ate a health diet, had moderate alcohol consumption, and didn’t smoke, there was a 57 percent reduced risk of having a cardiovascular event, and a 67 percent reduced risk of dying from heart disease, as compared to those people who only practiced one or none of these lifestyle factors.
When researchers factored in sufficient sleep—along with the other four lifestyle factors—those numbers jumped to a 65 percent reduced risk of having a cardiovascular event, and an incredible 83 percent reduced risk of dying from heart disease.
The moral of the story? Get moving, quit smoking, enjoy a glass of wine every now and then, and get on the Mediterranean bandwagon. And, more importantly, get your sleep!
If you need some help in this area, you can take the following steps. First, prepare your bedroom to be a place of sleep and sleep only. (Well, there can be one other use). The key is to remove the electronics, keep in on the cooler side by opening a window or using a fan, and blocking out external light.
Next, discontinue all mentally stimulating activities at least 30 minutes before sleep. That means no iPad, no TV, no intense reading. Instead, relax in a warm bath, meditate, or even flip through a magazine or easy-reading book.
Lastly, try two of the most commonly accepted nutrients for promoting healthy sleep. These include melatonin (6-12 mg) and 5-HTP (50-100 mg), taken about 30 minutes before bedtime.