How long will you live? Look to your parents
Did your parents live past 70? If so, it might bode well for your longevity, according to a new study.
Looking at data from more than 186,000 people ages 55 to 73 over an eight year duration, researchers from the UK found that people whose parents lived longer were less likely to have heart disease and more likely to outlive their peers whose parents died before turning 70.
In fact, the researchers found that for each parent that lived past age 70, the children’s risk of dying from heart disease was reduced by 20 percent. The longevity of the participants’ parents was also associated with lower risk of heart failure, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atrial fibrillation, as well as non-heart-related conditions like cancer.
“These findings are important, and we know there’s a genetic component to one’s health, particularly when it comes to heart conditions,” says Dr. Cameron Haery, an interventional cardiologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “However, if your parents have lived long, healthy lives, that doesn’t mean you can give up your healthy diet and exercise routine. Conversely, if your parents died young, there are still lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk for many of these conditions.”
Dr. Haery recommends the following for anyone who wants to reduce their risk for heart disease and other heart conditions:
- If you smoke, quit.
- Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and limit your intake of red meat and sugar. Avoid excessive alcohol use.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get regular physical activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day five or more days a week.
- If you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, work with your doctor to get them under control.
“Understanding your family’s health history and sharing it with your doctor is a vital part of taking a proactive approach to your health,” Dr. Haery says. “The other side of that is taking charge of the risk factors you have control over.”
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