Healthy Lifestyle Tied to Reduced Atherosclerosis in Women

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Of the three components of HLS, the strongest correlation with subclinical atherosclerosis was seen for abstinence from smoking.
Of the three components of HLS, the strongest correlation with subclinical atherosclerosis was seen for abstinence from smoking.

HealthDay News — A healthy lifestyle during midlife is associated with less subclinical atherosclerosis among women, according to a study published online Nov. 28 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Dongqing Wang, M.P.H., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used self-reported data on smoking, diet, and physical activity from 1,143 women in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation to construct a 10-year average Healthy Lifestyle Score (HLS) during midlife. Fourteen years after baseline, markers of subclinical atherosclerosis were measured, including common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CCA-IMT), adventitial diameter (CCA-AD), and carotid plaque.

The researchers found that in fully adjusted models, average HLS correlated with smaller CCA-IMT and CCA-AD. Participants in the highest versus the lowest HLS level had 0.24 mm smaller CCA-IMT and 0.16 mm smaller CCA-AD, equivalent to 17 and 24 percent of the standard deviation of CCA-IMT and CCA-AD, respectively. Of the three components of HLS, the strongest correlation with subclinical atherosclerosis was seen for abstinence from smoking.

"The low prevalence of a healthy lifestyle in this group of midlife women highlights the potential for lifestyle interventions aimed at this vulnerable population," Wang said in a statement. "Our prospective analysis clearly suggests that women approaching menopause can significantly lower this risk if they adopt healthier behaviors, even if cardiovascular issues have never been on their radar."

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