Healthy habits are key to maintaining health even while taking multiple prescriptions

November 09, 2020

DALLAS, Nov. 9, 2020 -- Lifestyle habits including eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and not smoking can reduce the risk of death, even for people taking multiple medications, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2020. The meeting will be held virtually, Friday, November 13 - Tuesday, November 17, 2020, and is a premier global exchange of the latest scientific advancements, research and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science for health care worldwide.

"We've long known about the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. The results from our study underscore the importance of each person's ability to improve their health through lifestyle changes even if they are dealing with multiple health issues and taking multiple prescription medications," said lead author Neil Kelly, Ph.D., a medical student at Weill Cornell Medicine of Cornell University in New York City.

The study analyzed data from more than 20,000 participants of the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study (average age of 64; 56% women). At the start of the study, 44% of participants were taking four or fewer prescription medications; 39% were taking five to nine prescription medicines; and 17% were taking 10 or more prescription medications.

Researchers evaluated the number of medications taken, level of participation in four healthy behaviors and all-cause death rates. The types of medications and the conditions they were used to treat (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, cognitive impairment, etc.), varied widely among study participants. The healthy lifestyle behaviors were physical activity; smoking abstinence; low sedentary time; and following a Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil and moderation for dairy products and wine.

At follow-up roughly 10 years later, the analysis found:"It's especially important for health care professionals to counsel patients and develop interventions that can maximize healthy lifestyle behaviors, even among patients with several prescription medications," Kelly added. "It's important for the public to understand that there is never a bad time to adopt healthy behaviors. These can range from eating a healthier diet to taking a daily walk in their neighborhood. A healthier lifestyle buys more time."
-end-
Co-authors are Parag Goyal, M.D.; Orysya Soroka; Chukwuma Onyebeke; Laura Pinheiro; Samprit Banerjee, Ph.D.; and Monika M. Safford, M.D. Author disclosures are in the abstract.

The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Note: Session: LF.APS.07 -Epidemiological Insights into Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health

Additional Resources:

Multimedia, including a video perspective interview with past president of the American Heart Association, Donna K. Arnett, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., B.S.N., may be downloaded from the right column of the release https://newsroom.heart.org/news/healthy-habits-are-key-to-maintaining-health-even-while-taking-multiple-prescriptions?preview=52af4d3f2f4ca78d4e32ef717cd4588d

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For more news at AHA Scientific Sessions 2020, follow us on Twitter @HeartNews #AHA20.

Statements and conclusions of studies that are presented at the American Heart Association's scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the Association's policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and biotech companies, device manufacturers and health insurance providers are available here, and the Association's overall financial information is available here.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies, and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

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