Lifestyle in progression from hypertensive disorders of pregnancy to chronic hypertension in Nurses’ Health Study II: observational cohort study

Objectives To study the association between lifestyle risk factors and chronic hypertension by history of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP: gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia) and investigate the extent to which these risk factors modify the association between HDP and chronic hypertension.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting Nurses’ Health Study II (1991-2013).

Participants 54 588 parous women aged 32 to 59 years with data on reproductive history and without previous chronic hypertension, stroke, or myocardial infarction.

Main outcome measure Chronic hypertension diagnosed by a physician and indicated through nurse participant self report. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models were used to investigate the development of chronic hypertension contingent on history of HDP and four lifestyle risk factors: post-pregnancy body mass index, physical activity, adherence to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, and dietary sodium/potassium intake. Potential effect modification (interaction) between each lifestyle factor and previous HDP was evaluated with the relative excess risk due to interaction.

Results 10% (n=5520) of women had a history of HDP at baseline. 13 971 cases of chronic hypertension occurred during 689 988 person years of follow-up. Being overweight or obese was the only lifestyle factor consistently associated with higher risk of chronic hypertension. Higher body mass index, in particular, also increased the risk of chronic hypertension associated with history of HDP (relative excess risk due to interaction P<0.01 for all age strata). For example, in women aged 40-49 years with previous HDP and obesity class I (body mass index 30.0-34.9), 25% (95% confidence interval 12% to 37%) of the risk of chronic hypertension was attributable to a potential effect of obesity that was specific to women with previous HDP. There was no clear evidence of effect modification by physical activity, DASH diet, or sodium/potassium intake on the association between HDP and chronic hypertension.

Conclusion This study suggests that the risk of chronic hypertension after HDP might be markedly reduced by adherence to a beneficial lifestyle. Compared with women without a history of HDP, keeping a healthy weight seems to be especially important with such a history.

Reference:  BMJ 2017;358:j3024

Genetic Risk, Adherence to a Healthy Lifestyle, and Coronary Disease


Both genetic and lifestyle factors contribute to individual-level risk of coronary artery disease. The extent to which increased genetic risk can be offset by a healthy lifestyle is unknown.


Using a polygenic score of DNA sequence polymorphisms, we quantified genetic risk for coronary artery disease in three prospective cohorts — 7814 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, 21,222 in the Women’s Genome Health Study (WGHS), and 22,389 in the Malmö Diet and Cancer Study (MDCS) — and in 4260 participants in the cross-sectional BioImage Study for whom genotype and covariate data were available. We also determined adherence to a healthy lifestyle among the participants using a scoring system consisting of four factors: no current smoking, no obesity, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet.


The relative risk of incident coronary events was 91% higher among participants at high genetic risk (top quintile of polygenic scores) than among those at low genetic risk (bottom quintile of polygenic scores) (hazard ratio, 1.91; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.75 to 2.09). A favorable lifestyle (defined as at least three of the four healthy lifestyle factors) was associated with a substantially lower risk of coronary events than an unfavorable lifestyle (defined as no or only one healthy lifestyle factor), regardless of the genetic risk category. Among participants at high genetic risk, a favorable lifestyle was associated with a 46% lower relative risk of coronary events than an unfavorable lifestyle (hazard ratio, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.47 to 0.63). This finding corresponded to a reduction in the standardized 10-year incidence of coronary events from 10.7% for an unfavorable lifestyle to 5.1% for a favorable lifestyle in ARIC, from 4.6% to 2.0% in WGHS, and from 8.2% to 5.3% in MDCS. In the BioImage Study, a favorable lifestyle was associated with significantly less coronary-artery calcification within each genetic risk category.


Across four studies involving 55,685 participants, genetic and lifestyle factors were independently associated with susceptibility to coronary artery disease. Among participants at high genetic risk, a favorable lifestyle was associated with a nearly 50% lower relative risk of coronary artery disease than was an unfavorable lifestyle. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.)

Reference: N Engl J Med 2016; 375:2349-2358December 15, 2016

Combined associations of body weight and lifestyle factors with all cause and cause specific mortality in men and women: prospective cohort study

Objective To evaluate the combined associations of diet, physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption, and smoking with body weight on risk of all cause and cause specific mortality.

Design Longitudinal study with up to 32 years of follow-up.

Setting Nurses’ Health Study (1980-2012) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2012).

Participants 74 582 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 39 284 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study who were free from cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline.

Main outcome measures Exposures included body mass index (BMI), score on the alternate healthy eating index, level of physical activity, smoking habits, and alcohol drinking while outcome was mortality (all cause, cardiovascular, cancer). Cox proportional hazard models were used to calculate the adjusted hazard ratios of all cause, cancer, and cardiovascular mortality with their 95% confidence intervals across categories of BMI, with 22.5-24.9 as the reference.

Results During up to 32 years of follow-up, there were 30 013 deaths (including 10 808 from cancer and 7189 from cardiovascular disease). In each of the four categories of BMI studied (18.5-22.4, 22.5-24.9, 25-29.9, ≥30), people with one or more healthy lifestyle factors had a significantly lower risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality than individuals with no low risk lifestyle factors. A combination of at least three low risk lifestyle factors and BMI between 18.5-22.4 was associated with the lowest risk of all cause (hazard ratio 0.39, 95% confidence interval 0.35 to 0.43), cancer (0.40, 0.34 to 0.47), and cardiovascular (0.37, 0.29 to 0.46) mortality, compared with those with BMI between 22.5-24.9 and none of the four low risk lifestyle factors.

Conclusion Although people with a higher BMI can have lower risk of premature mortality if they also have at least one low risk lifestyle factor, the lowest risk of premature mortality is in people in the 18.5-22.4 BMI range with high score on the alternate healthy eating index, high level of physical activity, moderate alcohol drinking, and who do not smoke. It is important to consider diet and lifestyle factors in the evaluation of the association between BMI and mortality.

Reference: BMJ 2016;355:i5855

Effect of Lifestyle-Focused Text Messaging on Risk Factor Modification in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Importance Cardiovascular disease prevention, including lifestyle modification, is important but underutilized. Mobile health strategies could address this gap but lack evidence of therapeutic benefit.

Objective To examine the effect of a lifestyle-focused semipersonalized support program delivered by mobile phone text message on cardiovascular risk factors. Design and Setting The Tobacco, Exercise and Diet Messages (TEXT ME) trial was a parallel-group, single-blind, randomized clinical trial that recruited 710 patients (mean age, 58 [SD, 9.2] years; 82% men; 53% current smokers) with proven coronary heart disease (prior myocardial infarction or proven angiographically) between September 2011 and November 2013 from a large tertiary hospital in Sydney, Australia.

Interventions Patients in the intervention group (n=352) received 4 text messages per week for 6 months in addition to usual care. Text messages provided advice, motivational reminders, and support to change lifestyle behaviors. Patients in the control group (n=358) received usual care. Messages for each participant were selected from a bank of messages according to baseline characteristics (eg, smoking) and delivered via an automated computerized message management system. The program was not interactive.

Main Outcomes and Measures The primary end point was low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) level at 6 months. Secondary end points included systolic blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, and smoking status. Results At 6 months, levels of LDL-C were significantly lower in intervention participants (mean difference, −5 mg/dL [95% CI, −9 to 0]; P=.04). There were concurrent reductions in systolic blood pressure (−7.6 mm Hg [95% CI, −9.8 to −5.4]; P<.001) and BMI (−1.3 [95% CI, −1.6 to −0.9]; P<.001), significant increases in physical activity (+293 metabolic equivalent task min/wk [95% CI, 102 to 485]; P=.003), and a significant reduction in smoking (26% vs 44%; relative risk, 0.61 [95% CI, 0.48 to 0.76]; P<.001). The majority reported the text-message program to be useful (91%), easy to understand (97%), and appropriate in frequency (86%).

Conclusions and Relevance Among patients with coronary heart disease, the use of a lifestyle-focused text messaging service compared with usual care resulted in a modest improvement in LDL-C level and greater improvement in other cardiovascular disease risk factors. The duration of these effects and hence whether they result in improved clinical outcomes remain to be determined.

Effect of Lifestyle-Focused Text Messaging on Risk Factor Modification in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial by Clara K. Chow, et al. JAMA. 2015;314(12):1255-1263.

Birth weight and later life adherence to unhealthy lifestyles in predicting type 2 diabetes: prospective cohort study

Objectives To prospectively assess the joint association of birth weight and established lifestyle risk factors in adulthood with incident type 2 diabetes and to quantitatively decompose the attributing effects to birth weight only, to adulthood lifestyle only, and to their interaction.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2010), Nurses’ Health Study (1980- 2010), and Nurses’ Health Study II (1991-2011).

Participants 149,794 men and women without diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer at baseline. Main outcome measure Incident cases of type 2 diabetes, identified through self report and validated by a supplementary questionnaire. Unhealthy lifestyle was defined on the basis of body mass index, smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and the alternate healthy eating index.

Results During 20-30 years of follow-up, 11,709 new cases of type 2 diabetes were documented. The multivariate adjusted relative risk of type 2 diabetes was 1.45 (95% confidence interval 1.32 to 1.59) per kg lower birth weight and 2.10 (1.71 to 2.58) per unhealthy lifestyle factor. The relative risk of type 2 diabetes associated with a combination of per kg lower birth weight and per unhealthy lifestyle factor was 2.86 (2.26 to 3.63), which was more than the addition of the risk associated with each individual factor, indicating a significant interaction on an additive scale (P for interaction<0.001). The attributable proportions of joint effect were 22% (95% confidence interval 18.3% to 26.4%) to lower birth weight alone, 59% (57.1% to 61.5%) to unhealthy lifestyle alone, and 18% (13.9% to 21.3%) to their interaction.

Conclusion Most cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by the adoption of a healthier lifestyle, but simultaneous improvement of both prenatal and postnatal factors could further prevent additional cases.

Birth weight and later life adherence to unhealthy lifestyles in predicting type 2 diabetes: prospective cohort study by Yanping Li, Sylvia H Ley, Deirdre K Tobias, et al. BMJ 2015; 351 :h3672 (Published 21 July 2015)