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Unhealthy men could lose 10 years

18th September 2009

Middle-aged men who smoke with high blood pressure and raised cholesterol levels face dying some 10 years before their healthier counterparts.

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A study by researchers from the University of Oxford focused on 19,000 civil servants aged 40-60 and then followed what happened to them 38 years later.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, showed that men with the three factors – the three mains risks of cardiovascular disease - could expect a 10-year shorter life from 50 years of age.

The study was set up at the peak of vascular disease in the UK in the late 1960s.

Those taking part had their height, weight, blood pressure, lung function, cholesterol and blood glucose levels measured and were questioned on their medical history, smoking, employment and whether they were married or not. Of that group, 42% were smokers, 39% had high blood pressure and 51% high cholesterol.

By 2005, 13,501 of them had died.

Dr Robert Clarke, of the university’s Clinical Trial Service Unit, said: "'We've shown that men at age 50 who smoke, have high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels can expect to survive to 74 years of age, while those who have none of these risk factors can expect to live until 83.”

Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said the study was important in that it put a figure on the life-limiting effects of smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

"It provides a stark illustration of how these risk factors in middle-age can reduce life expectancy,” he added.

 

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