Tag Archives: coronary heart disease

Mediterranean diet also helps existing heart disease

Eating a Mediterranean-style diet can help heart patients stay healthy, new research from Greece shows. The Mediterranean diet, which I recommend in my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, involves eating lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts, vegetable and olive oils, no-fat dairy products, legumes, whole grains, and fish, and has been shown to help shield people from heart disease and also ward off certain cancers.

But less information is available on whether the Mediterranean diet might be helpful for people who already have heart disease.

According to a report in Reuters Health, to investigate this, Chrysohoou and her team looked at 1,000 patients who had suffered heart attacks or severe chest pain while at rest or with only light exertion. They rated each patient on a scale of 0 to 55 based on how closely their eating matched the Mediterranean ideal.

Nearly half of the patients experienced a second heart-related event within two years after their original hospital discharge.

But patients with the most Mediterranean-style diets were at 31 percent lower risk of suffering another heart attack or experiencing chest pain during the first month after they were discharged from the hospital.

They were only half as likely as those with the least Mediterranean eating habits to have another heart-related event within a year, and nearly 40 percent less likely to experience repeat heart problems within two years.

For every additional point on the 55-point Mediterranean Diet Score, a person’s risk of having another heart-related event over the next two years fell by 12 percent, the researchers found.

Patients with the most Mediterranean diets were also the least likely to experience reductions in the ability of the heart’s main pumping chamber to work at full capacity, as well as harmful structural changes to the heart known as cardiac remodeling.

When the researchers looked at different components of the Mediterranean diet separately, they found that vegetables and salad and nuts were the only foods that cut risk; people who ate vegetables and salad or nuts daily or weekly were at 20 percent lower risk of repeat heart problems within two years of their initial hospitalization compared to people who ate these foods monthly or less often.

Based on the findings, Chrysohoou and her team conclude, strategies to reduce mortality and illness due to heart disease should include a “diet that contains the favorable characteristics of the Mediterranean diet.”

So, not only should those without heart disease consider the Mediterranean diet (to prevent heart disease), but those with heart disease should also consider it (to significantly reduce the risk for a (another) heart attack or heart-related event)

Could increasing your happiness reduce your risk of heart disease?

In a large, population-based study out of Europe, researchers found that an increased positive affect (happiness) was protective against a 10-year incidence of coronary heart disease. The researchers are suggesting that preventive strategies may be enhanced not only by reducing sadness and depressive symptoms, but also by increasing positive affect and happiness.

Bloomberg News reports that “people who are naturally happy appear to have a lower risk of developing heart disease or dying from heart attacks, according to” the study published in the European Heart Journal.

The Washington Post “The Checkup” blog reported that investigators “analyzed 10 years of data about 1,739 healthy adults who participated in the 1995 Nova Scotia Health Survey.”

The AP reports that the researchers “used a five-point scale to measure people’s happiness.” The investigators found that “for every point on the happiness scale, people were 22 percent less likely to have a heart problem.”

You can also learn more about the health dangers of sadness and depression, and get tons of tips on eliminating them in my book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. You can see the Table of Contents here, and read the first chapter here.

if you’d like to have a free measure of your health, including your physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual health, I’ve designed some assessment tools you can utilize at no cost: