Limited data are available on the benefit of combining healthy dietary and lifestyle behaviors in the prevention of myocardial infarction (MI) in women.
We used factor analysis to identify a low-risk behavior–based dietary pattern in 24 444 postmenopausal women from the population-based prospective Swedish Mammography Cohort who were free of diagnosed cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes mellitus at baseline (September 15, 1997). We also defined 3 low-risk lifestyle factors: nonsmoking, waist-hip ratio less than the 75th percentile (< 0.85), and being physically active (at least 40 minutes of daily walking or bicycling and 1 hour of weekly exercise).
During 6.2 years (151 434 person-years) of follow-up, we ascertained 308 cases of primary MI. Two major identified dietary patterns, “healthy” and “alcohol,” were significantly associated with decreased risk of MI. The low-risk diet (high scores for the healthy dietary pattern) characterized by a high intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish, and legumes, in combination with moderate alcohol consumption (≥ 5 g of alcohol per day), along with the 3 low-risk lifestyle behaviors, was associated with 92% decreased risk (95% confidence interval, 72%-98%) compared with findings in women without any low-risk diet and lifestyle factors. This combination of healthy behaviors, present in 5%, may prevent 77% of MIs in the study population.
Most MIs in women may be preventable by consuming a healthy diet and moderate amounts of alcohol, being physically active, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight.