Healthy diet reduces 2nd heart attack risk

Dec. 6, 2012 at 1:47 AM

HAMILTON, Ontario, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Heart patients who ate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish significantly reduced their chance of a second heart attack, researchers in Canada say.

Lead author Mahshid Dehghan, a nutritionist at McMaster University's Population Health Research Institute, said the five-year study of almost 32,000 patients -- average age 66 -- in 40 countries discovered those who ate a heart-healthy diet 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.

-- 19 percent reduction in risk for stroke.

"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," Dehghan said in a statement. "Dietary modification has benefits in addition to those seen with aspirin, angiotensin modulators, lipid-lowering agents and beta blockers."

Participants with cardiovascular disease were asked how often they consumed milk, vegetables, fruits, grains, fish, nuts, meat and poultry over the past 12 months. A healthy diet was indicated by a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts as well as a high intake of fish compared to meat, poultry and eggs.

The study, published in the American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal, found a heart-healthy diet offered a "consistent benefit" over and above the benefits of taking medications to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

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