Six healthy lifestyle practices lowered the risk of heart attack for women by 92%, per a report published in the January 6 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The lifestyle changes also lowered the risk of developing a risk factor for heart disease by 66%. 

The six healthy habits were:

  1. Not smoking
  2. Having a normal body mass index
  3. Being physically active for 2.5 hours or more per week
  4. Watching 7 or fewer hours of television in a week
  5. Drinking no more than one alcoholic drink in a day on average, and
  6. Eating a diet that measures in the top 40% for quality, based on the Harvard School of Public Health healthy eating plate.

Lead author Andrea K. Chomistek, ScD, and colleagues followed 69,247 women for 20 years. They found that 456 of these women had heart attacks, and 31,691 women were diagnosed with one or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.

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The average age of women when they were enrolled in the study was 37.1 years; the average age at diagnosis of heart disease was 50.3; and the average age at diagnosis with a risk factor for heart disease was 46.8. 

Adherence to all six healthy lifestyle factors may have prevented three-quarters of heart attacks and nearly half of all risk factors in these women, the authors said in a press release from the American College of Cardiology.

The group also determined that women who practiced at least four of the fix healthy habits studied had a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease, compared with women who did not follow any of the practices.