Healthy Diet Prevents Repeat Heart Attacks And Strokes
December 4, 2012

Study Indicates Healthy Diet Prevents Repeat Heart Attacks And Strokes

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

The saying may be that milk does the body good, but other food like fruits, vegetables and fish do the heart good in particular. Scientists from McMaster University recently found that healthy eating can help prevent the possibility of a second heart attack or stroke for patients who are suffering from cardiovascular disease. In general, the study´s findings showed that a healthy diet could have an all-around protective impact.

The findings, published in the American Heart Association´s journal Circulation and online in the American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal, were based on a five-year study of approximately 32,000 patients in 40 countries who consumed a heart-healthy diet. The patients were organized into different groups based on their food habit.

"At times, patients don't think they need to follow a healthy diet since their medications have already lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol — that is wrong," noted the study´s lead author Mahshid Dehghan, a nutritionist at McMaster University's Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), in the prepared statement.

"Dietary modification has benefits in addition to those seen with Aspirin, angiotensin modulators, lipid-lowering agents and beta blockers."

The study´s participants had an average age of 66.5, and a heart-healthy diet resulted in a 35 percent drop in mortality for death related to cardiovascular disease as well as a 14 percent decrease in risk of new heart attacks, 18 percent decline in risk for congestive heart failure, and a 19 percent decrease in the risk for stroke.

The findings showed that practicing a healthy diet had a “consistent benefit” over taking medications in terms of lowering the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. The team of investigators also looked at the impact of income on the participants and found that there were similar results for those who lived in middle and high-income countries in various parts of the world. Furthermore, the plentiful consumption of fruits and vegetables along with a higher ratio of fish to meats seemed to have more of an impact in preventing heart disease than in preventing cancer, injuries or fractures.

Researchers discovered the link between diet quality and the risk of cardiovascular disease with the help of McMaster´s global studies — ONTARGET/TRANSCEND. Study subjects were asked to answer questions regarding their consumption of fish, fruits, grains, milk, meat, nuts, poultry and vegetables over a 12-month period. They also provided information on their lifestyle choices such as alcohol consumptions, physical activity and smoking. Those who consumed high amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains as well as fish, eggs, poultry and meat were considered as having a healthy diet.

"Physicians should advise their high-risk patients to improve their diet and eat more vegetables, fruits, grains and fish," continued Dehghan in the statement. "This could substantially reduce cardiovascular recurrence beyond drug therapy alone and save lives globally."

The study comes at a particularly important time. According to McMaster University, at least 20 million people throughout the world have survived a heart attack or a stroke.