Health Team

Healthy lifestyle reduces women's risk for sudden cardiac death

Posted July 8, 2011 3:54 p.m. EDT
Updated July 8, 2011 6:28 p.m. EDT

Leading a healthy lifestyle – not smoking, exercising regularly, having a low body weight and eating a healthy diet – appears to lower the risk of sudden cardiac death in women, according to a study in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Sudden cardiac death, which occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating, can happen to anyone and accounts for more than half of all cardiac deaths each year in the United States.

Researchers followed nearly 82,000 female nurses for 26 years, observing their diets and lifestyle choices along with incidences of chronic diseases.

"Within this population, approximately 81 percent of all sudden cardiac deaths may have been prevented had all of the women adhered to a healthy lifestyle," said Stephanie Chiuvve, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said.

Women who adhered low-risk lifestyle factors had a 92 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death compared to those who adhered to no low-risk factors.

Researchers say that the study results were consistent among women with and without a prior history of coronary heart disease.