If you made a new year' s resolution to improve your health, you may be helping yourself more than you think.
Changing the way you live can affect the way your blood thickens and clots, thereby altering your risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a UK study.
The findings "suggest that lifestyle modifications may result in decreased (clotting) tendency in the blood and increased ability of blood flow," said Dr. John Yarnell from Queen's University, UK and associates.
In the study, eight different blood clotting factors were measured in more than 2,000 middle-aged men living in South Wales.
Most measure of clotting were increased among smokers, the researchers report, while nonsmokers had substantially lower results.
Yarnell and his colleagues concluded that factors that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, may work partly through their influence on the body's clotting system.
Increased leisure-time activity tended to lower some clotting measures, although none showed any significant relationship to work-related physical activity.
Increased alcohol consumption had variable effects, increasing some factors and reducing others. Researchers noted that this may account for the reduction in heart attacks with moderate alcohol consumption and the increase in strokes with heavy consumption.
"This research offers evidence that individuals can change their risk significantly by not smoking and by adopting other healthy lifestyle habits," according to a statement issued by the American Heart Association.