Live long or die young: it’s all about cardiovascular risk factors

September 21, 2009 by  

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hourglassMany people would give anything to live longer. However, what many of us are not aware of is that certain lifestyle factors can actually either add to or shave 10 years off our lifespan. Ten years – that’s a decade! Or even more.

This study by UK researchers at Oxford looked at 18,863 men who were part of the British Whitehall study. The participants were aged 40 to 69 who were working as civil servants in London. They were followed up, filled out questionnaires on medical history, smoking habits, employment grades, and marital status and underwent a medical exam that measured blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose concentrations, and height and weight. The study started between 1967 and 1970, and followed up the participants for 38 years.

The results of the study showed that three cardiovascular risk factors in middle age – smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels – are increase the likelihood of vascular mortality by 3-fold. In addition, non-vascular death is also two times higher among those with these risk factors, and their life expectancy is shortened by 10 years. When looking at more extreme categorization of risk factors, the researchers found that factors like body-mass index (BMI), diabetes mellitus/glucose intolerance, and employment grade can even shorten lifespan by up to 15 years.

According to the researchers

“Continued public-health strategies to lower mean levels of the three main cardiovascular risk factors, together with more intensive medical treatment for ‘high-risk’ subgroups, including use of medication to lower blood pressure and cholesterol concentration, which have proven efficacy, could result in further improvements in life expectancy.”

The findings of the UK study agree with another study conducted in the US, viewed from another perspective.  The study, which was part of the Physician’s Health Study, reported that the absence of the same risk factors listed above leads to exceptional longevity and better health status and quality of life at old age. The study concluded that

Modifiable healthy behaviors during early elderly years, including smoking abstinence, weight management, blood pressure control, and regular exercise, are associated not only with enhanced life span in men but also with good health and function during older age.

So you decide: what is it going to be: live longer or die younger. It is your choice.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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