Dr. Haitham Ahmed, an internal medicine resident with the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues found adopting the four lifestyle behaviors protect against coronary heart disease as well as the early buildup of calcium deposits in heart arteries. They found the changes reduce the chance of death from all causes by 80 percent over an eight-year period.
"To our knowledge, this is the first study to find a protective association between low-risk lifestyle factors and early signs of vascular disease, coronary heart disease and death, in a single longitudinal evaluation," Ahmed, the lead author, said in a statement.
"We evaluated data on more than 6,200 men and women, ages 44-84, from white, African-American, Hispanic and Chinese backgrounds. All were followed for an average of 7.6 years. Those who adopted all four healthy behaviors had an 80 percent lower death rate over that time period compared to participants with none of the healthy behaviors."
The study participants took part in the ongoing Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a prospective examination of the risk factors, prevalence and prevention of cardiovascular disease.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.