Lower Your Risk of Sudden Death 92% with LIFESTYLE Changes

September 10, 2012

Lower Your Risk of Sudden Death 92% with LIFESTYLE Changes 

Reference: JAMA July 6, 2011Chiuve 

 When you feel like you are a bit helpless and the grim reaper is going to come and get you some day anyway, you might just cheer yourself up with this article.  To me, this is what medicine should be about.  If you knew this data, it would spur you on to sticking with your resolutions.  Here are the facts that Chiuve has ferreted out of the Nurses Study. Some 81,000 nurses have been followed from 1984 to 2010 with questionnaires every two to four years. 

This is a long, huge study.  It should be pretty reliable. Just four questions.  Do you smoke? Is your BMI under 25?  Do you have some sort of exercise every day?  And is your diet focused more on vegetables and whole grains with a Mediterranean pattern of eating?  Just those questions.  And their measure of sudden cardiac death was collapse and death without warning, which is how about 30% of heart attacks present.   

If you only had three of those, your risk reduction went down to 67% and if you had two, it was 59% and 46% if you had just one. What does this tell me?  Lifestyle changes are pretty important.  In fact, you can reduce your risk far more with lifestyle changes than with any medication.  

Getting a pill to treat blood pressure has not been shown to reduce heart disease risk when your blood pressure is only in the 140-160 range as just published by the Cochrane Collaboration.   We have been depending on our medications to change our risk and thinking we were safe if we took that pill.  It would be my read of this finding that high blood pressure starts at 115, not 140 and the most reliable way to reduce it is to lose weight. The inflammation put out by our fat cells, particularly the ones in our abdomen that give us central fat, makes for “endothelial dysfunction” and this is what high blood pressure is all about.   It’s not salt as much as inflammation. 

 The full article had some nuance to it.  Exercise was on a scale with the best being one hour a day.   BMI was worst over 35, followed by under 21.  So being real skinny was not good either.  (Don’t you just like that?)   Likely now, we would measure total body fat instead of BMI if this study was done over, but getting your weight down and firming up with some muscle by exercising in any way you can is going to be helpful.  Never smoking was the best and that also had a scale to it.  Diet is the most controversial as we are still sorting that out.  Likely, the best comes with more and more vegetables and less and less fat, sugar and ground up grain products (cereal, bread, bagels, cookies, cakes….). 

 WWW.  What will work for me?  Each week I’m trying to learn to like more and different vegetable dishes.  I bought four bunches of beets at the farmer’s market and after boiling them up; I saved the tops and chopped them up.  A tablespoon of butter, some salt, garlic and chili powder, and they tasted pretty good. Surprised me.  Farmer’s markets are bulging with vegetables right now.  They are almost giving their produce away in Sept because the harvest is on.  Give it a try this week. Find one new dish you like and add it to your repertoire.  I’ve done beet greens.  What’s yours?   And remember, walking your dog twice a day for 30 minutes makes an hour of exercise. 

 Written by John E Whitcomb, MD   Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160, Brookfield, WI 53045  262-784-5300 Archives at www.NewsInNutrition.com