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Study Finds Healthy Diet Important Even While Taking Heart Medications

I belong to the Hilton Head Island Sports Fishing club. A few times a year, a group of guys get together drink a beer or two, swap fish stories (otherwise known as lies), talk about where the fish are biting  (but never share their best spots) and what baits are working best. The club provides dinner which is always a submarine sandwich with bologna, salami, ham, cheese, mayo, etc. Clearly, not one of the best meals I eat, but as infrequently as I have it I am not too concerned.

A friend of mine who happens to be an internal medicine doctor is also in the club. The last meeting we went to he was eating his sub sandwich and a couple of his patients, who are in the club as well, said to him, “hey doc, should you really be eating that sandwich?” to which he replied as he held up his sandwich, “Lipitor.” Now I should point out it was meant to be a joke, he certainly encourages all of his patients, especially those taking medications for their blood pressure, blood cholesterol or for diabetes to eat healthfully, but patients sometimes view the medications they are taking as license to eat whatever they want.

A new study published in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation, demonstrated the importance of healthy eating even for those who are taking medications. They found that those on blood cholesterol and blood pressure lowering medications who ate a heart healthy diet as compared to those who did not has a:

   35% reduction in risk for cardiovascular death;

   14% reduction in risk for new heart attacks;

   28% reduction in risk for congestive heart failure; and

   19% reduction in risk for stroke.

Mahshid Dehghan, Ph.D. study author and nutritionist at McMaster University in Ontario Canada, commented that “at times patients don’t think they need to follow a healthy diet since their medications have already lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol but that is wrong. Physicians should advise their high risk patients to improve their diet and eat more vegetables, fruits, grains and fish. This could substantially reduce cardiovascular reoccurrence beyond drug therapy alone.”

If you have a history of heart disease and you have been prescribed medications by all means take them, but diet and exercise most also be a part of your prevention program.

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