What Exactly Does a “Low-Risk Healthy Lifestyle” Entail?

Most folks want to live a longer, healthier life. But what exactly can you do to improve your lifestyle? Here are some tips from a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical  Association that determined which lifestyle choices lead to a lower risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in women.

First, don’t smoke. Many studies have established a link between smoking and SCD, so the researchers only considered abstaining from cigarettes completely as low-risk. This was the criterion in which the women did best–more than 80% of American women do not smoke.

Second, keep your BMI under 25, which is the World Health Organization’s cutoff point for overweight. Only 40% of women pass this test.

Third, exercise for at least thirty minutes every day at a modest or vigorous intensity. Here women do even worse, with only 22% getting the optimal amount of exercise.

Fourth, eat a Mediterranean diet high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fish, and moderate in alcohol. There’s no data about how many women eat the recommended diet, but it’s no secret that American dietary habits are lacking.

The results of the study were striking. Those who adhered to these four basic rules of health living were at significantly reduced risk of sudden cardiac death:

Women at low risk for all 4 lifestyle factors had a 92% lower risk of SCD compared with women at low risk for none of the 4 lifestyle factors. If these associations are causal, 81% of SCD within this cohort may have been prevented if all women adhered to a low-risk lifestyle.

All four of these healthy lifestyle principles are attainable and could have a huge effect on your health and the quality of your life, far beyond lowering your risk for sudden cardiac death.

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.


  1. At a mtg. I attended the presenter said for wt loss potatoes-reg and sweet,and apples bananas and oranges should not be eaten because they turn into sugar. Is that true? Also what do you think of Herbalife products for wt. loss?

  2. I eat apples, and occasional oranges and bananas. They all have sugar, but less than juice is that it takes maybe 3 oranges to make 1 glass of orange juice, and most people won’t eat 3 oranges. Plus the whole fruit gives you more fiber in most cases.
    Sweet potatoes turn into sugar slower than white potatoes; white potatoes may be linked to diabetes. I eat sweet potatoes frequently.
    Brown rice is less likely to contribute to diabetes than white rice. http://www.howilost100lbs.com/its-better-to-eat-brown-rice-than-white-rice
    I can’t comment on Herbalife. Supplements I take (search the website for posts) are vitamin D, fish oil, resveratrol, and green tea.

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