Antihypertension Diet Lowers Risk of CHD, Stroke

Article excerpt

Women who followed the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet had significant risk reductions of coronary heart disease and stroke, results from a cohort of participants in the ongoing Nurses Health Study showed.

Previous studies have shown that the diet--heavy in fruits and vegetables--lowers blood pressure and blood lipids, but this marks the first time benefit on a disease state has been demonstrated.

"It's one thing if your blood pressure or cholesterol goes down, but it does not automatically translate to a reduction of disease risk," lead study author Teresa Fung, Sc.D., said in an interview after the work was presented at the annual scientific sessions of the American Heart Association. "In this study I wanted to see if the diet is related to reducing the disease."

Developed by researchers funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in the 1990s, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is low in cholesterol and sodium and contains no more than 30% of calories from fat.

The DASH diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

Dr. Fung and her associates evaluated 88,415 women from the Nurses Health Study who were aged 34-59 years in 1980 and had no history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

The researchers used a questionnaire to assess the women's diet seven times over 24 years of follow-up and used medical records to tabulate their incidence of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

In an effort to measure the women's adherence to the DASH diet, the researchers created a DASH score based on their consumption of eight foods and nutrients: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy, red and processed meat, sweetened beverages, and sodium. …