Healthy Diet Helps Prevent Recurrent Heart Attacks, Strokes

Medications help protect many people from recurrent heart attacks and strokes. But new research published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation shows eating a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables is still important.

“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,” said study author Mahshid Dehghan, a nutritionist at the Population Health Research Institute in Ontario, Canada. “Dietary modification has benefits in addition to those seen with aspirin, angiotensin modulators, lipid-lowering agents and beta blockers.”

Researchers followed more than 31,500 adults with heart disease or end organ damage for one year. They kept track of how often the study participants drank milk and ate fruits, vegetables, fish, grains, meat and poultry. Five years later, researchers documented how many cardiovascular events had occurred.

They found that those who ate a diet tailored for good heart health had a:

  • 35 percent reduction in risk for cardiovascular death;
  • 14 percent reduction in risk for new heart attacks;
  • 28 percent reduction in risk for congestive heart failure; and
  • 19 percent reduction in risk for stroke.

Dehghan said doctors should tell their high-risk patients to improve their diet by eating more vegetables, fruits, grains and fish.

“This could substantially reduce cardiovascular recurrence beyond drug therapy alone and save lives globally.”

Source: American Heart Association news release

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