When it comes to your personal health, no matter how you choose to live your life, you can’t ignore your family history. You often hear individuals speak about diseases that run in the family, and heart disease is no exception. This brings us to our first question.
If your parents or grandparents suffered from heart disease, will you experience the same genetic fate? According to a new study, the answer is more encouraging than you’d expect, as your lifestyle choices can influence even the worst genetic hand.
Study Finds — Lifestyle Factors Can Cut Your Risk of Heart Disease In Half
After studying more than 55,000 people, researchers found that when you live a healthy balanced lifestyle — meaning, you do not smoke, participate in moderate exercise, and eat a diet heavy in vegetables, fruits, and grains, you can significantly influence ‘bad’ genes.
Your DNA does not need to be your destiny and as the lead author stated, it is not the main deciding factor when it comes to disease. You do have control over your health and even if you’re dealt a bad genetic hand, you can take action. This study was the first of its kind to use large amounts of data to better understand how genes and lifestyle affect heart disease.
Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, these results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association. This information is important, as 17.3 million people die of coronary heart disease each year — the most common type of heart disease.
When you better understand how your personal choices influence your health, you’re more prone to make positive choices. Incredibly, the researchers found that certain genes can double your risk of heart disease, but when individuals follow a healthy lifestyle, their risk is cut in half.
Perhaps what’s even more informative, is that when you choose an unhealthy lifestyle low in nutrients and physical activity, you can actually erase the benefits of ‘good’ genetics. Professionals not involved in the study are describing the results as impressive, not only because of the findings but due to the study’s design.
Subjects were taken from four large independent studies, yet the results were consistent, even though these populations varied. In that sense, this research is not something that scientists or the general public see often and in many ways, it could help save lives by spreading evidence-based awareness.
To better understand their analysis, one study focused on both black and white Americans aged 45-64. Those who showcased the highest genetic risk while following a healthy lifestyle cut the 10-year likelihood of heart disease from 10.7 percent to 5.1 percent. Similar results were seen among 21,222 American women aged 45 or older.
By developing a genetic score based on 50 genes associated with heart disease, researchers were able to better understand the impact lifestyle choices have on genetics. Those who received an optimum lifestyle score displayed three or all four elements — did not smoke, exercised at least once a week, followed a healthy diet, and were not obese.
You’re In Control — Protect Your Heart Today
This study emphasizes the fact that our destiny is not solely based on our genetics, just as it is not solely based on our lifestyle — both play a role. Your ‘nature’ influences the way you were ‘nurtured’ and vice versa. Researchers stated that the largest protective effect by far was based on those moving from a ‘terrible’ lifestyle to one that was even moderately good.
The take home message here is, even if you showcase a genetic profile that increases your risk of heart disease, you have the power to alter that risk. That is a fairly empowering feeling and when it comes to your health, nothing is more important. Take an active role in your future health through the choices you make today — it could save your life.
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