Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Living a healthy lifestyle during menopause could slow the narrowing of arteries in aging women, a study says.
The Journal of the American Heart Association on Wednesday published a study that followed women between ages 42 and 52, evaluating them with annual medical exams and surveys about their physical activity, eating habits and tobacco use.
"Midlife is a crucial window for women to take their cardiovascular wellness to heart and set a course for healthy aging," Ana Baylin, an associate professor of nutritional health sciences and epidemiology at the University of Michigan, said in a said in a press release. "The metabolic changes that often occur with menopause, especially increases in cholesterol levels and blood pressure, can significantly increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cognitive impairment later in life."
The research, which began in 1996, found that women who engaged in healthy habits had substantially wider arteries, lower fatty plaque buildup and less arterial thickening.
But only 1.7 percent of the women in the study maintained the three components of healthy living during the study.
Living a healthy lifestyle -- with plenty of exercise, healthy eating and no tobacco use -- can stave off the narrowing of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis.
"The good news is that middle-aged women can take their wellbeing into their own hands and make healthy lifestyle changes, such as avoiding tobacco smoke, eating a healthier diet and getting more physical activity to reduce their cardiovascular risk," Baylin said.