MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- People suffering from heart disease who eat a heart-healthy diet may reduce their odds of having a heart attack or stroke, a new Canadian study suggests.
Those benefits came on top of those seen from taking heart medications, such as statins, blood pressure drugs and aspirin, the researchers noted.
"It is a very common misconception that medications for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other cardiovascular problems will solve or cure the issues at hand," said Samantha Heller, clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn.
"The medications give patients a false sense of protection and security," said Heller, who was not involved with the study. "Many times, physicians do not emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle makeover. Thus, patients tend to ignore general dietary and exercise advice."
The reality is that what people eat has an enormous impact on the health of their entire cardiovascular system, Heller said.
"Even if someone is taking medications, eating a lot of bad [foods] -- like saturated or trans fats, fast and junk foods, red and processed meats, sweets, [and] refined and processed foods -- will still wreak havoc in the body, increasing inflammation, contributing to the deregulation of sugar and insulin, and to the exacerbation of cardiovascular diseases," she said. "We must consider our food as medicine and be as thoughtful and dedicated to healthy eating as we are to taking our prescribed medications."
The report was published online Dec. 3 in the journal Circulation.
For the study, an international team led by Mahshid Dehghan, a nutritionist at the Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, collected data on more than 31,000 adults who had cardiovascular disease.
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