Physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, and abdominal obesity are key modifiable risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD). We investigated the combined effects of not having these risk factors on CHD events and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality in men.
We followed up 23 657 men, aged 30 to 79 years, who completed a medical evaluation including a maximal treadmill exercise test and self-reported health habits. A low-risk profile was defined as not smoking, moderate or high fitness, and normal waist girth. There were 482 CHD events (nonfatal myocardial infarction or fatal CHD) and 1034 deaths (306 CVD, 387 cancers, and 341 others) during a mean 14.7 years of follow-up (348 811 man-years).
After adjustment for age, examination year, and multiple baseline risk factors, there was an inverse association between a greater number of low-risk factors and CHD events, and CVD and all-cause mortality in men (P value for trend, <.001 for all). Men with a normal waist girth and who were physically fit and not smoking had a 59% lower risk of CHD events (95% confidence interval [CI], 39%-72%), a 77% lower risk of CVD mortality (95% CI, 65%-85%), and a 69% lower risk of all-cause mortality (95% CI, 60%-76%) compared with men with none of these low-risk factors. Men with 0 compared with 3 low-risk factors had a shorter life expectancy by 14.2 years (95% CI, 12.2-15.9 years).
Being physically fit, not smoking, and maintaining a normal waist girth is associated with lower risk of CHD events, and CVD and all-cause mortality in men.