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Lifestyle changes can significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease

December 6, 2012

Older adults who have already experienced a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular incident often believe it's too late to reap any benefits from lifestyle changes. However, new research suggests that even steps as simple as eating a healthier diet can dramatically reduce the risk of second heart attack or stroke, according to

Published in the journal Circulation, the extensive study looked at approximately 32,000 people in 40 countries, all of whom had a history of cardiovascular issues. Researchers relied on a questionnaire that assessed what the study participants ate and then followed the subjects over a period of five years.

The team found that people who followed a more heart-healthy diet enjoyed about a 35 percent lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular event. Additionally, they had a 14 percent lower risk of suffering a second heart attack and a 19 percent reduced risk of stroke.

"A healthy diet offers a consistent benefit over and above the benefits of taking medication," nutritionist and study researcher Mahshid Dehghan told the website. "The two go hand in hand."

Preventing heart conditions is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle for seniors, and luckily there are a variety of ways for older adults to lessen their chances of suffering even an initial heart attack or stroke.

According to the Mayo Clinic, eating more fruits and vegetables is the easiest, and perhaps most effective, way to craft a heart healthy diet. In addition to being high in fiber and low in calories, most fruits and vegetables are full of substances that lower one's risk of cardiovascular disease.