Heart Attack Survivors Can Benefit From A Diet High In Fiber
April 30, 2014

High-Fiber Diet Increases Survival Rate After Heart Attack

Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Suffering a heart attack can be a life-changing and life-altering event, with patients often taking steps to prevent another such attack.

A new study in the British Medical Journal has found that individuals who experience a heart attack have a better possibility of living for a longer time if they raise their dietary consumption of fiber - and consuming lots of cereal fiber is particularly advantageous.

The study discovered those who ate the most fiber had a 25 percent reduced chance of dying in the nine years following their heart attack in comparison with those who ate the least amount of fiber in the study cohort. Every 10 grams per day boost in fiber consumption was linked with a 15 percent lower risk of dying over the nine-year follow-up interval.

The scientists noted that with more people making it through heart attacks, it will be even more critical to discover what lifestyle actions they can take together with their medication to enhance their long-term health prospects.

While the connection between a high intake of dietary fiber and a lower risk of establishing coronary heart disease has been widely reported for years, it has been uncertain if having heart attack survivors eat more fiber will boost their odds of living longer.

To reach their conclusions, the Boston-based study team considered data from two big US studies – the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professional Follow-up Study, a total of more than 170,000 men and women.

Volunteers were divided into five groups based on the amount of fiber they consumed after their heart attack. The top group showed a 25 percent lower possibility of death from any cause during the study period compared to the bottom group. With regards to only cardiovascular causes of death, the top group had a 13 percent lower death risk than the bottom group.

Study results were modified with respect to confounding factors that might impact the odds of survival after a cardiac event, including age group, medical history along with other dietary and lifestyle behavior.

The scientists said that cardiac arrest survivors have a greater risk of dying than the general public and are often more motivated to make transformations to their lifestyle – yet treatment to improve their chances of living longer frequently overlooks the significance of a healthier lifestyle in favor of a long-term drug regimen.

“Future research on lifestyle changes post-MI should focus on a combination of lifestyle changes and how they may further reduce mortality rates beyond what is achievable by medical management alone,” the researchers concluded.

"We can't say for sure what caused the fiber benefit seen here, but we do know that, on average, we're not getting enough fiber in our diets,” Victoria Taylor, of the British Heart Foundation, told the BBC News in reaction to the study.

"Fiber comes from a range of foods, including fruit and veg, beans and lentils, and also from cereal products, which this study found to be particularly beneficial,” Taylor added. "To get more fiber, you can make simple swaps, such as trading white bread for wholegrain versions or opting for higher-fiber breakfast cereals, like porridge or muesli."