A heart-healthy diet may help protect patients with heart disease from recurrent myocardial infarction and stroke, according to a study.
At times, patients dont think they need to follow a healthy diet since their medications have already lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol, [but]that is wrong, Mahshid Dehghan, PhD, a study author and a nutritionist at the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, said in a news release.
Dietary modification has benefits in addition to those seen with aspirin, angiotensin modulators, lipid-lowering agents and beta blockers.
For the study, 31,546 adults (average age 66.5) with cardiovascular disease or end organ damage were asked how often they consumed milk, vegetables, fruits, grains, fish, meat and poultry in the past 12 months. They also were asked about lifestyle choices such as alcohol consumption, smoking and exercise. Total scores were determined by daily fruits, vegetables, grains and milk consumed and the ratio of fish to meats consumed.
The researchers found those who ate a heart-healthy diet had a 35% reduction in risk of cardiovascular death, 14% reduction in risk of new MI, 28% reduction in risk of heart failure and 19% reduction in risk of stroke.
Food habits in different regions of the world varied considerably. However, a healthy diet was associated with prevention of recurrent cardiovascular disease throughout the world in countries with different economic levels, Dehghan said.
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits with a higher ratio of fish to meats appeared to be more beneficial for preventing heart disease than for preventing cancer, fractures or injury.
Physicians should advise their high-risk patients to improve their diet and eat more vegetables, fruits, grains and fish, Dehghan said. This could substantially reduce cardiovascular recurrence beyond drug therapy alone and save lives globally.
The study appears in the Dec. 4 issue of Circulation, an American Heart Association journal, and is available at http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/126/23/2705.full.