Protect Your Heart with 4 Actions, MASSAGE MagazineResearchers have found that committing to four lifestyle elements could have a significant effect on heart health:

1. Exercise

2. Eat a Mediterranean-style diet

3. Maintain a healthy weight

4. Don’t smoke

The researchers found that adopting those four lifestyle behaviors protected against coronary heart disease as well as the early buildup of calcium deposits in heart arteries, and reduced the chance of death from all causes by 80 percent over an eight-year period, according to a Johns Hopkins University press release.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to find a protective association between low-risk lifestyle factors and early signs of vascular disease, coronary heart disease and death, in a single longitudinal evaluation,” said lead author Haitham Ahmed, M.D., M.P.H.

“We evaluated data on more than 6,200 men and women, age 44-84, from white, African-American, Hispanic and Chinese backgrounds. All were followed for an average of 7.6 years. Those who adopted all four healthy behaviors had an 80 percent lower death rate over that time period compared to participants with none of the healthy behaviors,” says Ahmed.

Results of the study, “Low-Risk Lifestyle, Coronary Calcium, Cardiovascular Events, and Mortality: Results from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis,” was published by the American Journal of Epidemiology.