May 11, 2019 08:50 AM EDT
Researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Health led a study which claimed that a diet proven to have beneficial effects on high blood pressure might also reduce the risk of heart failure in people under age 75. The research is published in the current online issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The research observed more than 4,500 participants, and it revealed that those people under 75 who most closely adhered to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet had a significantly lower risk of developing heart failure than those whose eating habits were least in keeping with the diet.
An associate professor of general internal medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, Claudia L. Campos, the lead author of the study, said that only a few studies had examined the effects of the DASH diet on the incidence of heart failure and they have yielded conflicting results. Campos explained further that this study revealed that following the DASH diet can reduce the risk of developing heart failure by almost half, which is better than any medicine.
The DASH diet emphasized the eating of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy products while reducing consumption of salt, red meat, sweets, and sugar-sweetened beverages. It is similar to the Mediterranean diet but differs in recommending low-fat dairy products and excluding alcoholic drinks.
The result of the study revealed how researchers reviewed the cardiovascular health records over 13 years of 4,478 men and women of multiple ethnicities from six U.S. sites who were between the ages 45 and 84 with no history of cardiovascular disease when they were enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis between 2000 and 2002.
The researchers based their assessment of dietary habits on their responses to a 120-item questionnaire covering the serving size and frequency of consumption of specific foods and beverages. The study team used this data and divided the participants into five groups, each representing 20 percent of the study population, based on how well, or poorly, their eating habits aligned with the DASH diet.
Campos said that heart failure is a frequent cause of hospitalization in older adults and it is connected with substantial health care costs, and to identify modifiable risk factors of heart failure is an essential public health goal. The new study offers a framework for further exploration of the DASH diet as a useful element in the primary prevention of heart failure.
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