May 12, 2009

DASH diet lowers heart failure risk

Women who followed the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet to lower blood pressure halved their rate of heart failure, U.S. researchers said.

Senior study author Emily Levitan of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston said the DASH diet is plentiful in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains, while using less salt, sugar, red meat and processed meat.

The study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, found women with DASH scores in the top 10 percent had fully half the rate of heart failure compared with the one-quarter of participants with the lowest scores.

These foods are high in potassium, magnesium, calcium and fiber, moderately high in protein, and low in saturated fat and total fat, Levitan said in a statement. Those women whose diets most closely resembled DASH had the lowest risk of heart failure. Very few of the women we looked at had diets that shared all aspects of the DASH diet, but we found that the closer they were, the lower their risk of heart failure.

In l997, 36,019 participants in the Swedish Mammography Cohort ages 48-83 having no evidence of heart failure were asked to complete food questionnaires. The participants were tracked for seven years to determine how many were hospitalized or had died from heart failure.