Better cardiovascular health lowers risk of chronic disease, mortality, study finds

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The longer a patient leads a healthy lifestyle during midlife, the less likely they are to develop certain diseases in later life, according to new research by the Boston University School of Medicine and published in the journal JAMA Cardiology.

For the study, researchers used data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), observing participants for approximately 16 years and assessing the development of disease or death. They found that for each five-year period that participants had intermediate or ideal cardiovascular health, they were 33 percent less likely to develop hypertension, approximately 25 percent less likely to develop diabetes, chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease, and 14 percent less likely to die compared to individuals in poor cardiovascular health.

The more time a person doesn't smoke, eats healthy, exercises regularly, maintains healthy blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and maintains a normal weight, the less likely they are to develop diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease or to die during early adulthood.

The researchers hope this study will help people understand the importance of achieving an ideal cardiovascular health early in life and motivate them to maintain a healthy lifestyle, according to author Vanessa Xanthakis, PhD, FAHA, corresponding author and assistant professor of medicine.

"Our results indicate that living a longer period of time in adulthood with better cardiovascular health may be potentially beneficial, regardless of age,” she said in a statement. “Overall, our findings underscore the importance of promoting healthy behaviors throughout the life-course. On the community-level, this will overall help reduce morbidity and mortality associated with diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and death during late adulthood."