TIME Heart Disease

6 Steps That Can Prevent 70% of Heart Attacks

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Much of your heart health is within your control

How much of your heart health is in your own hands?

A lot, it turns out, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. And it helps to start early: Young women who follow six healthy activities can all but heart-attack-proof themselves.

The study looked at questionnaire data from a large number of nurses over two decades. They were all around age 37 at the start. The researchers identified six healthy behaviors important for heart health, none of which will come as a surprise: not smoking, having a normal BMI, getting at least 2.5 hours of exercise each week, watching television seven or fewer hours a week, having a healthy diet and limiting alcohol to a drink or less per day.

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Women who stuck to all six guidelines had a 92% lower risk for coronary heart disease, the researchers discovered. That means that more than 70% of heart attacks in the group could have been prevented if everyone had hit those six benchmarks of heart health, they estimate.

Not that you needed a study to tell you; the science has long been clear about how to get a healthier heart. But now, at least you know you’re only six steps away.

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