Certain behaviours can reduce the risk of myocardial infarction (MI) in women. However, little data are available on the magnitude of the risk reduction from a combination of these behaviours.
Researchers in Sweden assessed the benefit of following a healthy diet plus drinking about 0.5 or more alcoholic drinks per day, not smoking, having a waist-hip ratio <0.85, and being physically active among 24,444 postmenopausal women without cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes at baseline. A healthy diet included a high intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish, and legumes; being physically active involved at least 40 minutes of daily walking or bicycling and 1 hour of weekly exercise.
During 6.2 years of follow-up, 308 cases of primary MI occurred.
In adjusted analyses, each of the assessed health behaviors was inversely and independently associated with the risk of MI, although results for physical activity were not significant.
The risk of MI was significantly lower among women with a healthy diet* plus the following:
alcohol consumption (relative risk [RR], 0.5)
alcohol consumption and not smoking (RR, 0.2)
alcohol consumption, not smoking, and physical activity (RR, 0.1)
alcohol consumption, not smoking, physical activity, and a waist-to-hip ratio <0.85 (RR, 0.08)
Most MIs were attributable to the lack of these healthy behaviors.
Comments by R. Curtis Ellison:
In a recent study by Mukamal et al, men with healthy lifestyles who drank alcohol had a greater reduction in MI risk than did men with healthy lifestyles who did not drink. The present study shows a similar finding among women: it supports the notion that combining a Mediterranean-type diet and other healthy lifestyle factors, including low alcohol intake, may substantially reduce the risk of myocardial infarction in women.
Source: Akesson A, Weismayer C, Newby PK, et al. Combined effect of low-risk dietary and lifestyle behaviors in primary prevention of myocardial infarction in women. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(19):21222127.