Lifestyle and 15-year survival free of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes in middle-aged British men

Arch Intern Med. 1998 Dec;158(22):2433-40. doi: 10.1001/archinte.158.22.2433.


Background: To examine the relationship between modifiable lifestyle factors (smoking, physical activity, alcohol intake, and body mass index [BMI]) and the likelihood of 15-year survival free of major cardiovascular end points and diabetes in middle-aged men.

Methods: A prospective study of 7142 men aged 40 to 59 years at screening with no history of coronary heart disease, diabetes, and stroke drawn from 1 general practice in each of 24 British towns and followed up for 15 years.

Main outcome measures: Death from any cause and a combined end point, including survival free of heart attacks or stroke or the development of diabetes over a follow-up of 15 years for each man.

Results: During the 15-year follow-up, there were 1064 deaths from all causes, 770 major heart attacks (fatal and nonfatal), 247 stroke events (fatal and nonfatal), and 252 cases of diabetes among the 7142 men. After adjustment for age and each of the other modifiable lifestyle factors, the risk of the combined end point (death or having a heart attack, stroke, or diabetes) went up significantly with increasing smoking levels and from BMI levels of 26 kg/m2 or higher, and decreased significantly with increasing levels of physical activity up to levels of moderate activity with no further benefit thereafter (heavy smoking vs never: relative risk [RR] [odds], 2.50; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.12-2.94; BMI > or = 30 vs 20-21.9 kg/m2: RR, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.71-2.62; moderate vs inactive: RR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.50-0.72). Light drinking (vs occasional) showed a relatively small but significant reduction in risk (RR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.74-0.96). Using Cox predictive survival models, the estimated probability of surviving 15 years free of cardiovascular events and diabetes in a man aged 50 years ranged from 89% in a moderately active man at BMI levels of 20 to 24.0 kg/m2 who had never smoked to 42% in an inactive smoker with BMI level of 30 kg/m2 or higher.

Conclusions: Modifiable lifestyles (smoking, physical activity, and BMI) in middle-aged men play an important role in long-term survival free of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These findings should provide encouragement for public health promotion directed toward middle-aged men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / etiology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / mortality*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / mortality*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects