Preventing heart disease with healthier diets

Preventing heart disease

The findings came on World Food Day, which emphasizes the significance of affordable and sustainable wholesome diets for everybody, preventing heart disease.

Over two-thirds of deaths from heart disease worldwide could be prevented with healthy diets. That is the finding of a study published in European Heart Journal – Quality of Care and Clinical Outcomes, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

“Our analysis shows that unhealthy diets, high blood pressure, and high serum cholesterol are the top three contributors to deaths from heart attacks and angina – collectively called ischaemic heart disease,” said study author Dr. Xinyao Liu of Central South University, Changsha, China. “This was consistent in both developed and developing countries.”

“More than six million deaths could be avoided by reducing intake of processed foods, sugary beverages, trans and saturated fats, and added salt and sugar, while increasing intake of fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. Ideally, we should eat 200 to 300 mg of omega 3 fatty acids from seafood each day. On top of that, every day we should aim for 200 to 300 grams of fruit, 290 to 430 grams of vegetables, 16 to 25 grams of nuts, and 100 to 150 grams of whole grains,” she added.

The study analyzed data supplied by the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017, which was conducted in 195 countries between 1990 and 2017.2 In 2017, there have been 126.5 million individuals living with ischaemic heart disease, and 10.6 million new diagnoses of the problem. Ischaemic heart disease caused 8.9 million deaths in 2017, which equates to 16 percent of all deaths, compared with 12.6 percent of all deaths in 1990. A healthy diet would be helpful in preventing heart disease.

Between 1990 and 2017, age-standardised prevalence, incidence, and death rates per 100,000 people decreased by 11.8 percent, 27.4 percent, and 30 percent, respectively. But absolute numbers nearly doubled. Dr. Liu explained: “While progress has been made in preventing heart disease and improving survival, particularly in developed countries, the numbers of people affected continues to rise because of population growth and ageing.”

The researchers calculated the impact of 11 risk factors on death. These were diet, high blood pressure, high serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high plasma glucose, tobacco use, higher body mass index (BMI), air pollution, low physical activity, impaired kidney function, lead exposure, and alcohol usage. Specifically, they estimated the ratio of deaths which could be stopped by removing that threat element.

Assuming all other risk factors remained unchanged, 69.2 percent of ischaemic cardiovascular disease deaths worldwide could be prevented if healthy diets were adopted. Meanwhile, 54.4 percent of these deaths could be prevented if systolic blood pressure was retained in 110-115 mmHg, while 41.9 percent of deaths could be ceased if serum LDL was kept at 0.7-1.3 mmol/L. Approximately a quarter of deaths (25.5 percent) could be avoided if serum fasting plasma glucose was kept in 4.8-5.4 mmol/L, whereas eradicating smoking and second-hand smoke could discontinue one-fifth (20.6%) of deaths from ischaemic heart disease.

Notably, tobacco use ranked as fourth highest contributor to ischaemic cardiovascular disease deaths in men but just seventh in women. Between 1990 and 2017, the global incidence of smoking decreased by 28.4 percent in men and 34.4 percent in girls. High BMI was the highest contributor to ischaemic heart disease deaths in women and sixth in men. For ladies, 18.3 percent of deaths from ischaemic heart disease could be avoided if BMI was retained in 20-25 kg/m2. In both sexes, the percent contributions of air pollution and lead vulnerability to age-standardised ischaemic heart disease deaths increased as the country of residence became significantly less developed.

Dr. Liu said: “Ischaemic heart disease is largely preventable with healthy behaviors and individuals should take the initiative to improve their habits. In addition, geographically tailored strategies are needed – for example, programs to reduce salt intake may have the greatest benefit in regions where consumption is high (e.g. China or central Asia).”

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