In a recently published study, providing advice over a 5-year period about leading a healthy lifestyle reduced the risk of heart-related deaths over the next 40 years.

Participants were advised to decrease the intake of saturated fats and increase fish and vegetable products. In addition, overweight individuals were advised to reduce their weight and smokers were advised to stop smoking.

Those who received the advice showed a sustained 29% reduced risk of death at first heart attack compared with individuals who did not receive the advice, for up to 40 years. Death from any cause decreased in the period 8 to 20 years after randomization, but not thereafter.

For the study, all 25,915 men born in Oslo during the period 1923-1932 were invited in 1972/1973 to a cardiovascular disease screening examination; of these, 16,203 men participated in the screening. Overall, 1232 high-risk men with high cholesterol levels were included in the original intervention trial.

"Successful lifestyle intervention on diet and antismoking for 5 years in middle-aged men may give life-long benefits with regard to death from myocardial infarction," said Dr. Ingar Holme, lead author of the Journal of Internal Medicine article.