New Study: Healthy Lifestyle Starts with No Smoking

June 05, 2013

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It’s no news flash that exercise, eating healthy and watching your weight are all good for your heart – and that smoking is most decidedly not.

But a new study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology underscores the huge benefits of adopting heart-healthy behaviors, and shows that not smoking has the greatest benefit of all.

The study found that adopting four healthy behaviors – not smoking, regular exercise, eating a Mediterranean-style diet and keeping a normal weight – protected against coronary heart disease and reduced the chance of death from all causes by 80 percent over an eight-year period.

 “Of all the lifestyle factors, we found that smoking avoidance played the largest role in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and mortality,” said Dr. Roger Blumenthal, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who was the senior author of the study.

“In fact, if you exercised, ate healthily, and maintained normal weight, but smoked, you still were worse off than people who did nothing else right but stayed away from cigarettes,” said Dr. Haitham Ahmed, the lead investigator.

“This really highlighted how important it is to stay away from smoking. It is probably singlehandedly the best thing you can do for your cardiovascular and overall health,” Dr. Ahmed added.

Researchers evaluated data on more than 6,200 U.S. men and women, age 44-84, from white, African-American, Hispanic and Chinese backgrounds.  All were followed for an average of 7.6 years.