Lifestyle may affect sudden cardiac death risks

Tue Jul 5, 2011 9:28pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - There's yet another reason for women to stay fit, eat healthy, abstain from smoking and maintain their weight at a healthy level: those who do so may be less likely to die from sudden cardiac death, a U.S. study said.

Each of the different factors -- a Mediterranean-style diet, a healthy weight, not smoking and exercise -- were linked to a smaller chance of sudden cardiac death, which is related to a malfunctioning of the electrical rhythm of the heart, the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association said.

Added together, the factors were tied to a 92 percent reduced risk.

"The more you adhere to this healthy lifestyle, the better you are in terms of your risk of sudden cardiac death," said Stephanie Chiuve from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, the lead author of the study.

Sudden cardiac death is responsible for half of all cardiac deaths, with about 250,000 to 310,000 cases occurring annually in the United States, the authors write.

Chiuve and her colleagues looked at results from the Nurses' Health Study, in which more than 81,000 women periodically answered surveys about their health and lifestyle over 26 years.

During the span of the study, 321 women suffered sudden cardiac death at an average age of 72.

Women who ate a diet closest to the Mediterranean diet, which has a high proportion of vegetables, fruits, nuts, omega-3 fats, and fish, along with moderate amounts of alcohol and small amounts of red meat, had the lowest risk of sudden cardiac death -- 40 percent less than those whose diets least resembled the Mediterranean diet.

Normal-weight women were 56 percent less likely to suffer sudden cardiac death compared to obese women, while at least 30 minutes a day of exercise reducing the risk by 28 percent.   Continued...

<p>Women participate in exercises during a fitness class at The Bar Method in New York, in this picture taken March 28, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>