February 21, 2011

Heart Attacks Victims Still Succumb To Fast Food Habits

According to a study in the American Journal of Cardiology, over half of patients who have had heart attacks can still be found at their favorite fast food places at least once a week.

John Spertus, of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, studied about 2,500 heart attack patients and found that 884 reported that they had eaten fast food frequently in the month before their heart attack.

When Spertus and his colleagues checked back six months later, 503 were still eating fast food each week.

"Fast food consumption by patients with AMI (acute myocardial infarction) decreased 6 months after the index hospitalization, but certain populations -- including younger patients, men, those currently working, and less educated patients -- were more likely to consume fast food, at least weekly, during follow-up," he wrote.

"Novel interventions that go beyond traditional dietary counseling may be needed to address continued fast food consumption after AMI in these patients."

However, the study found that older patients and those who had bypass surgery were more likely to be avoiding fast food after six months.

The survey did not ask what menu items people had ordered, and some in the restaurant business said that fast food is not always limited just to burgers and fries.

However, the researchers found that people in their study who kept eating fast food tended to have health profiles "consistent with selection of less healthy options."

Spertus said that nine out of 10 patients in the study received dietary counseling before they left the hospital, but this did not seem to affect the odds that frequent fast food eaters would improve their diets

"The problem is that patients are absorbing so much information at the time of their heart attack, that I just don't think they can capture and retain all the information they're getting," he told Reuters Health.

Fast food restaurants in the U.S. will soon be required to post calories, fat, sodium and other nutritional information on their menus.


On the Net: