Experts are reiterating the importance of following seven simple steps to achieve a healthier lifestyle – adding it could save your life.
Those people who adhere to the checklist were found to have a lower risk of heart failure, a new study revealed.
The steps require people to manage their blood pressure, keep a check on cholesterol levels, reduce blood sugar, get active, eat a healthy diet, lose weight and stop smoking.
Experts at the American Heart Association say the simple plan slashes a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke.
And, the new piece of research adds weight to the argument, adding the steps can also reduce the risk of heart failure – a long-term condition in which the heart fails to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
More than three million people suffer heart failure in the US each year.
Once a person develops heart failure, they face a lifetime living with the condition, for which, until recently there were few effective treatments.
7 STEPS TO A HEALTHIER HEART
Manage your blood pressure
Keep cholesterol levels in check
Reduce blood sugar
Eat a healthy diet
Stub out those cigarettes and stop smoking
Source: American Heart Association
Dr Aaron Folsom of the University of Minnesota, who wasn’t a part of the study, told Reuters: ‘The information before was more for coronary heart disease… there was not much on heart failure.’
Whether someone is following the seven steps is calculated for an overall score of one to 10.
The higher the score, the more closely someone is following the steps.
Scientists from Boston University followed 3,201 participants in the Framingham Offspring Study for up to 12 years.
The study participants had an average age of 59.
During the study, 188 people developed heart failure.
Scientists found that for every one-point increase in cardiovascular health score on the AHA’s calculator, heart failure risk fell by 23 per cent.
The AHA has said it’s not enough to just treat risk factors and think about dealing them after people develop them.
Instead, the AHA is attempting to prevent those risk factors in the first place, according to Dr Folsom.
The AHA’s checklist contains ‘well-known prevention strategies’ – yet almost nobody achieves all seven ideal factors, especially diet.
Dr Folsom said: ‘Salt intake is still overwhelmingly too high.’
Educating people only goes so far to promote healthy behavior, Dr Folsom added.
He said policy changes need to be more effective.
Dr Veronique Roger of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota told Reuters that creating environments where physical activity is easy to do and controlling the contents of food products can make it easier for people to make healthier choices.
She said: ‘Following healthy behaviors is an issue that extends way beyond the boundaries of the healthcare world.
‘Some of these behaviors really require societal and policy approaches.
‘We can’t be counting on doctors and nurses to make this work.’
Dr Folsom added: ‘Heart failure is growing and heart attacks are declining.
But ‘that to some extent can be prevented.’
The study was published in Circulation: Heart Failure.