A large prospective study has found that five healthy lifestyle habits alone can drastically cut a woman’s chances of a heart attack. Taken together, five low-risk factors averted nine out of 10 initial MIs. Those factors are:

• A diet rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish, and legumes
• Moderate alcohol consumption (>5 g/day)
• Waist-hip ratio in the <75th percentile (<0.85)
• Abstaining from smoking
• Physical activity (>40 minutes of walking or bicycle riding per day, plus more than one hour of exercise per week)

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm studied 25,000 healthy women 48-83 years old with no signs of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes at baseline. During a mean follow-up of 6.2 years, 308 women suffered a primary MI; 51 were fatal (Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:2122-2127).

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Statistical analyses showed a heart-friendly eating pattern and a moderate amount of alcohol were associated with a 57% reduction in primary MIs. When the other habits were factored in, women who hit all five marks had a 92% lower risk of MI compared with those who followed no healthy habits.