July 6th, 2011

Lower Sudden Cardiac Death Rates Observed in Women with Healthy Lifestyles

It probably won’t come as a big surprise, but a new study finds that women who live a healthy lifestyle have a lower risk for sudden cardiac death (SCD). In a paper published in JAMA, Stephanie Chiuve and colleagues analyzed data from 81,722 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study. They used 4 factors to identify a low-risk lifestyle:

  • not smoking
  • BMI <25
  • exercise lasting 30 minutes or longer per day
  • adherence to the Mediterranean diet

Each factor was individually associated with a significant reduction in risk for SCD. Here are the absolute risks and adjusted relative risks for SCD in women with:

  • 0 low-risk factors: 22 cases/100,000 person-years, RR=1
  • 1 low-risk factor: 17/100,000, RR = 0.54
  • 2 low-risk factors: 18/100,000, RR =0.41
  • 3 low-risk factors: 13/100,000, RR = 0.33
  • 4 low-risk factors: 16/100,000, RR = 0.08

The authors calculated that 4 out of every 5 SCDs may be attributed to “unhealthy lifestyle practices.” They concluded: “Because SCD accounts for more than 50% of CHD mortality, widespread adoption of a healthy lifestyle in the population may make a substantial impact on reaching the American Heart Association’s 2020 Impact Goal of further lowering cardiovascular disease mortality.”

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