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Dietary Interventions Benefit Heart Attack Survivors

Low-fat and Mediterranean diets have equal effects in improving overall survival

MONDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- In heart attack survivors who adopt either a low-fat or a Mediterranean-style diet, overall and cardiovascular event-free survival is similar and significant, according to study findings published in the June issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Katherine R. Tuttle, M.D., of the Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., and colleagues randomly assigned 101 heart attack survivors to adopt either a low-fat or Mediterranean-style diet and compared their outcomes with 101 matched controls who were assigned to usual care. Although both diets were low in saturated fat and cholesterol, the Mediterranean diet contained higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Over a median follow-up of 46 months, the researchers found that overall and cardiovascular event-free survival was not significantly different between the low-fat (42 of 50) and Mediterranean-style diet groups (43 of 51). They also found that overall and cardiovascular event-free survival was significantly higher in the intervention groups than among controls (85 versus 61).

"Because neither cardiovascular events nor risk factors differed between interventions, the Heart Institute of Spokane Diet Intervention and Evaluation Trial does not substantiate claims that increased omega-3 fat intake, predominantly from eating fish, adds benefit beyond a diet emphasizing reduced cholesterol and saturated fat," the authors state. "Recent European studies have likewise found no differences in cardiovascular risk factors or inflammation markers after up to one year of Mediterranean-style diets compared to low-fat or other prudent dietary approaches in populations with moderate to high risk."

One co-author disclosed receiving consulting fees from companies that make fish oil and having equity ownership in Lipid Technologies, the company that performed the plasma fatty acid analysis.

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