(RxWiki News) The American Heart Association (AHA) has identified seven simple steps people can take to reduce their risk of heart disease. But new evidence suggests that the AHA's "Life's Simple 7" may wind up benefiting much more than patients' hearts.
Life’s Simple 7 categorizes heart health status for seven categories into three levels: poor, intermediate or ideal. The seven categories include blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, physical activity, diet, body mass index (BMI) and smoking status.
A patient with "ideal" heart health status has low blood pressure, low cholesterol, low fasting blood glucose, gets at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, eats a healthy diet, has a healthy BMI, and has never smoked or has quit smoking for more than a year prior, according to the AHA.
John P. Calvillo, PharmD, director of pharmacy for CentRx Pharmacy at McAllen Medical Center in Texas, told RxWiki News that taking steps to get or stay heart-healthy can have long-lasting benefits.
"As a pharmacist perspective, a heart health lifestyle plan can also benefit a person by no longer needing to take medications," Dr. Calvillo, who was not involved in the AHA study, said. "Sometimes my patients laugh that a pharmacist would try and help them get off of medications, but I'm a health care professional first and a businessman second. By living a hearth-healthy lifestyle, patients can work with their doctor to be slowly taken off medications to control a long list of disease states, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even diabetes. This not only saves them money, but in the long run is healthier for them too."
For this study, a team of researchers led by Oluseye Ogunmoroti, MD, MPH, of Baptist Health South Florida, used data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) to look at 6,814 adults who were followed for an average of 10 years.
These researchers found that the rate of non-cardiovascular disease lowered overall as heart health status improved.
They also found that, compared to patients in the poor category, patients in the ideal category had a 62 percent lower risk of chronic kidney disease, a 48 percent lower risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a 45 percent lower risk of pneumonia and a 21 percent lower risk of cancer.
According to Dr. Ogunmoroti and team, these results suggest that achieving an ideal heart health status (as defined by the AHA) may reduce the health care burden of many chronic diseases.
This study was presented Nov. 10 at the 2015 American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.
Information on study funding sources was not available at the time of publication.
Study author Dr. Mary Cushman disclosed grant funding from Diadexus. This company makes products used to assess heart risk.