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Am J Geriatr Cardiol. 2004 May-Jun;13(3):153-60.

Lifestyles of older adults: can we influence cardiovascular risk in older adults?

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Influences of lifestyle habits on cardiovascular disease risk among older adults are not well established. The authors present evidence from the Cardiovascular Health Study that dietary, physical activity, and smoking habits assessed late in life are associated with cardiovascular disease risk among adults aged 65 years or older. Persons consuming fatty fish twice per week had a 47% lower risk of coronary death compared with those who consumed fatty fish less than once per month, while cereal fiber intake (about two whole-grain bread slices per day) was associated with a 14% lower risk of myocardial infarction or stroke. Modest alcohol intake (1-6 drinks per week) predicted the fewest subclinical cerebrovascular abnormalities. Compared with little activity, moderate and high leisure-time activity predicted 28% and 44% lower mortality, respectively, while compared with nonexercisers, low, moderate, and high exercise intensity predicted 30%, 37%, and 53% more years of healthy life, respectively. Former and current smokers had 25% and 44% fewer years of healthy life than those who never smoked; lifetime smoking (pack-years) predicted higher mortality. Clinical practice and public health implications, gaps in knowledge, and future research directions are summarized.

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