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It’s never too late for a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet can extend your life, even if you have had a heart attack, a stroke, or diabetes, finds a new study.

BMJ Group News

What do we know already?

fruits and vegetables

We know that eating a diet that is high in saturated fats and trans fats will increase your risk of having a heart attack, a stroke, or other heart diseases.

People who have had a heart attack or a stroke usually take treatments that help to reduce their chance of having another heart attack, stroke, or other heart problem.

What researchers don’t know is if adopting a healthy diet after you’ve had a heart attack, a stroke, or if you have a heart disease like heart failure, helps to reduce your chance of a second attack.

Researchers followed 31,546 people, with an average age of 66 years who’d had a heart attack, a stroke, or diabetes, for nearly five years to see if their diet had an effect on their health or how likely they were to have heart problems.

What does the new study say?

People who ate a diet rich in fruit, grains, vegetables, and fish were less likely to die from heart disease than people who ate an unhealthy diet, regardless of what drugs they were taking for heart disease. People who ate a healthy diet were also less likely to have another heart attack, a stroke, or heart failure.

How reliable is the research?

This is a good-quality study that followed a large group of people, from 40 countries, for nearly five years. Although this type of study (a cohort study) is useful for finding out how closely two things are linked - in this case, diet and the risk of having a second heart attack or stroke - they cannot prove that one thing causes another. However, many other high-quality studies have previously shown a relationship between diet and heart health, so it’s likely that diet plays a role in heart health even after a heart attack or stroke.

What does this mean for me?

If you are on medication following a heart attack, stroke, or have diabetes, it is advisable to have a diet that is high in fruit, grains, vegetables, and fish as it may provide additional benefit over and above the benefit provided by your medication.

Published on December 04, 2012

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