(NaturalNews) A new study conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association provides new evidence that maintaining a healthy lifestyle significantly decreases a person's lifetime risk of high blood pressure and heart failure.
First, researchers collected diet and lifestyle data from 20,900 male physicians over an average of 22.4 years between 1982 and 2008. They then calculated each man's risk of heart failure at age 40.
The average risk of heart failure was about one in seven, but this risk was significantly lower among men who exercised regularly, had high intakes of breakfast cereals and/or fruits and vegetables, consumed alcohol in moderation, did not smoke, and/or maintained a healthy body weight. While men who did not meet any of these criteria had a lifetime heart failure risk of 21.2 percent, men who met four or more had less than half the risk, or 10.1 percent.
In a second analysis, the researchers followed 83,882 female nurses between the years of 1991 and 2005, comparing their risk of high blood pressure with various diet and lifestyle factors. The factors studied included normal body weight, healthy diet, modest alcohol consumption, use of folic acid supplements, vigorous exercise for an average of 30 minutes per day, and use of painkillers less than once a week.
The researchers found that women who met one of the six criteria had a 54 percent lower risk of high blood pressure than women who met none; women who met four criteria had a 58 percent lower risk; women who met five had a 72 percent lower risk; and women who met all six had a 78 percent lower risk. Obesity alone increased a woman's risk of high blood pressure by 370 percent.
All of the factors included in the study have previously been linked to either high blood pressure or heart failure risk.