Purpose: To determine the frequency of adopting a healthy lifestyle (5 or more fruits and vegetables daily, regular exercise, BMI 18.5-29.9 kg/m2, no current smoking) in a middle-aged cohort, and determine the subsequent rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality among those who adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Methods: We conducted a cohort study in a diverse sample of adults age 45-64 in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities survey. Outcomes are all-cause mortality and fatal or non-fatal cardiovascular disease.
Results: Of 15,708 participants, 1344 (8.5%) had 4 healthy lifestyle habits at the first visit, and 970 (8.4%) of the remainder had newly adopted a healthy lifestyle 6 years later. Men, African Americans, individuals with lower socioeconomic status, or a history of hypertension or diabetes were less likely to newly adopt a healthy lifestyle (all P <.05). During the following 4 years, total mortality and cardiovascular disease events were lower for new adopters (2.5% vs 4.2%, chi2P <.01, and 11.7% vs 16.5%, chi2P <.01 respectively) compared to individuals who did not adopt a healthy lifestyle. After adjustment, new adopters had lower all-cause mortality (OR 0.60, 95% Confidence Interval [CI], 0.39-0.92) and fewer cardiovascular disease events (OR 0.65, 95% CI, 0.39-0.92) in the next 4 years.
Conclusions: People who newly adopt a healthy lifestyle in middle-age experience a prompt benefit of lower rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality. Strategies to encourage adopting healthy lifestyles should be implemented, especially among people with hypertension, diabetes, or low socioeconomic status.