(HealthDay News) — Living a healthy lifestyle may decrease the risk of heart failure among women, even in the absence of antecedent coronary heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes, according to research published in the Oct. 28 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Golareh Agha, Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted a study of 84,537 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative observational study. One point was assigned for each healthy criterion met, including high-scoring Alternative Healthy Eating Index, physically active, healthy body mass index, and currently not smoking, to calculate a healthy lifestyle (HL) score. In the weighted HL (wHL) score, each lifestyle factor was weighted according to its independent magnitude of effect on heart failure.

The researchers found that increasing HL score, compared with HL score of zero, was associated with decreasing heart failure risk (HL score of 1: multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 0.49; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.38 to 0.62; HL score of 2: HR, 0.36; 95 percent CI, 0.28 to 0.46; HL score of 3: HR, 0.24; 95 percent CI, 0.19 to 0.31; and HL score of 4: HR, 0.23; 95 percent CI, 0.17 to 0.30). For highest tertile versus lowest tertile, similar associations with heart failure risk were observed for HL score (HR, 0.46; 95 percent CI, 0.41 to 0.52) and wHL score (HR, 0.48; 95 percent CI, 0.42 to 0.55). HL score also was strongly associated with heart failure risk among women without preceding coronary heart disease, diabetes, or hypertension.

“Someday, we may know enough to personalize incentives that account for genetic, socioeconomic, and other barriers an individual faces in attaining the recommended healthy lifestyle,” writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

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