Study identifies four habits that help reduce heart disease risk

June 4, 2013

Baltimore – Avoiding smoking is one of the most important factors for reducing the risk of heart disease, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University.

Using data on more than 6,200 people 44-84 years old from the ongoing Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, researchers examined the impact of adopting four healthy living behaviors: exercising regularly, eating a Mediterranean diet, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking.

About 2 percent of participants met all four healthy living criteria. Over roughly 7.6 years, those people had an 80 percent lower death rate than people who adopted none of the healthy habits, according to a Johns Hopkins press release.

Among all the factors, smoking was found to have the biggest impact on health and mortality. Smokers who followed two or more of the healthy behaviors still had lower rates of survival than obese non-smokers who did not exercise, researchers said.

The study was published online June 3 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.