Healthy Lifestyle through Young Adulthood and Presence of Low Cardiovascular Disease Risk Profile in Middle Age
Background—A low cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk profile (untreated cholesterol < 200 mg/dl, untreated blood pressure < 120/<80 mmHg, never smoking, and no history of diabetes and myocardial infarction) in middle age is associated with markedly better health outcomes in older age, but few middle aged adults have this low risk profile. We examined whether adopting a healthy lifestyle throughout young adulthood is associated with presence of the low CVD risk profile in middle age.
Methods and Results—The CARDIA study sample consisted of 3,154 black and white participants aged 18 to 30 years at Year 0 (Y0, 1985-86) who attended the Year 0, 7 and 20 (Y0, Y7 and Y20) examinations. Healthy lifestyle factors (HLFs) defined at Y0, Y7 and Y20 included: 1) Average BMI < 25 kg/m2; 2) No or moderate alcohol intake; 3) higher healthy diet score; 4) higher physical activity score; and 5) Never smoking. Mean age (25 years) and percentage of women (56%) were comparable across groups defined by number of HLFs. The age-, sex- and race-adjusted prevalences of low CVD risk profile at Y20 were 3.0%, 14.6%, 29.5%, 39.2% and 60.7% for people with 0 or 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 HLFs, respectively (p-trend <0.0001). Similar graded relationships were observed for each sex-race group (all p-trend<0.0001).
Conclusions—Maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout young adulthood is strongly associated with low CVD risk profile in middle age. Public health and individual efforts are needed to improve adoption and maintenance of healthy lifestyles in young adults.
- Received August 4, 2011.
- Accepted December 20, 2011.
- Copyright © 2012, American Heart Association, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited