-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Healthy eating habits can
significantly reduce high blood pressure and improve heart function
in heart failure patients, a new study says.
The study included patients, most in their 60s and 70s, who ate
only meals that were prepared for them in the kitchen of the
University of Michigan Clinical Research Unit.
The meals, which could be picked up and heated at home, followed
the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet eating
plan, which is high in potassium, magnesium, calcium and
antioxidants. The diet is recommended for high blood pressure
treatment by the American Heart Association and the U.S. National
Institutes of Health.
The diet used in the study also contained a daily sodium intake
of 1,150 milligrams or less, which is much lower than American
adults' typical intake of about 4,200 mg a day for men and 3,300 a
day for women.
After three weeks of following this diet, patients saw a drop in
blood pressure similar to that achieved by taking blood pressure
medications, according to the study presented Tuesday at a Heart
Failure Society of America meeting.
"Our work suggests diet could play an important role in the progression of heart failure, although patients should always talk to their doctor before making major dietary changes," Dr. Scott Hummel, a cardiologist at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, said in a university news release.
"We're excited to confirm these results in longer-term studies that also help us understand the challenges patients face when they try to improve their eating habits," he added.
Heart failure means the heart can't pump enough blood to meet
the body's needs.
Doctors have long known that the low-sodium DASH diet can lower
blood pressure in patients who are sensitive to salt. This study,
although small, showed that the DASH diet can improve left
ventricular relaxation and reduce diastolic chamber stiffness in
heart failure patients, meaning a more efficient transfer of blood
between the heart and arteries, Hummel explained.
Data and conclusions presented at meetings should be considered
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
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