Women with a healthy, low-risk lifestyle may have as much as a 92% lower risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) as compared with women with a high-risk profile, according to a study led by HSPH researcher Stephanie Chiuve. Chiuve and colleagues found that each positive lifestyle choice women made—a Mediterranean-style diet, a healthy weight, not smoking, and exercise—was linked to a smaller chance of SCD, which is responsible for half of all cardiac deaths annually in the U.S.
The study appeared in the July 6, 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study, in which more than 81,000 women periodically answered questions about health and lifestyle over a 26-year period.
The greater the number of low-risk lifestyle choices a woman made, the greater the benefit to her health, researchers found. Overall, the researchers found that 81% of SCD risk was related to unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking, inactivity, overweight, and poor diet.