In Terms of Longevity, What Leading a Healthy Life is Worth

At least to me, it seems like a bit of a no-brainer that living healthily will add years to your life. But just how many years? I mean, come on. I want to know just how valuable avoiding smoking cigarettes is versus sitting on my ass drinking a 40 of Colt 45 every night.

Especially since I might actually be tempted in doing the latter.

Well, the results are in. And according to the most recent data from Northwestern University, having optical risk factors for heart disease at age 40 is worth a staggering 14 years of life.

For the study, researchers pulled data from five different cohorts included in the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project and looked at the participants’ risk of all forms of fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular disease from ages 45, 55 and 65 through 95 years of age. Specifically, they were looking at the risk factors of blood pressure, total cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking status, and correlating those factors to fatal and nonfatal coronary heart disease, all forms of stroke, congestive heart failure, and other CVD deaths.

The most striking statistic that came out of the data was that those who had perfect bills of health – at least where the aforementioned indicators are concerned – lived on average 14 years later than those without a clean bill of health.

Another notable outcome is that for all participants, middle-aged men had a lifetime risk of 60 percent for developing cardiovascular disease, while middle-aged women had a 56 percent chance. Which means that no matter who you are, there’s a better chance than not that you’ll have heart disease at some point in your life.

Assuming you live long enough.

No wonder heart health is one of the leading branches of medical research at the moment.

The study “Lifetime Risk and Years Lived Free of Total Cardiovascular Disease” was authored by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine assistant professor of cardiology John T. Wilkins and appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).


About bigkingken

A science writer dedicated to proving that the Big Ten - or the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, if you will - is more than athletics.
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