It’s no surprise that someone who has never smoked, who eats a Mediterranean diet and keeps a normal weight and who exercises regularly is healthy. How healthy? Chances of death from all causes is reduced by 80% over eight years. Pretty healthy.
Those four healthy behaviors also protected against heart disease and the buildup of calcium deposits in the arteries, the researchers said. Those are the results of a multiyear study of more than 6,000 people led by Johns Hopkins University researchers and published online Monday in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
But it’s a rare person who gets all that good protection. Only 2% of the people studied, or 129 people, satisfied all four healthy lifestyle criteria. (A Mediterranean diet, by the way, is one that’s high in fruits, vegetables and legumes, and includes olive oil, whole grains and fish, with lesser amounts of wine, dairy products and meat.)
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to find a protective association between low-risk lifestyle factors and early signs of vascular disease, coronary heart disease and death, in a single longitudinal evaluation,” Dr. Haitham Ahmed, lead author and an internal medicine resident at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at Johns Hopkins, said in a statement.