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Heart Disease Health Center

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Scary Diagnosis Doesn't Spook Poor Diet

Even After Heart Attack, Heart Disease, or High Blood Pressure, Bad Eating Habits Persist
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 11, 2008 -- After a major heart health wake-up call -- like a heart attack or diagnosis of heart disease or high blood pressure -- many people hit the dietary snooze button.

That's the bottom line from two new studies on heart disease, high blood pressure, and diet.

Here's what's needed, according to the researchers:

(What challenges have you faced while trying to stick to a heart-healthy diet? Discuss it with others on WebMD's Heart Disease: Support Group board.)

Heart Disease and Diet Study

One of the two new studies focused on diets and coronary heart disease.

A year after having a heart attack or being diagnosed with coronary heart disease, 555 people reported everything they ate during one day and night.

Based on their self-reported eating habits, participants got a dietary score ranging from 0 (the worst diet) to 80 (a perfect diet).

Their average score was 30.8 points, showing that the quality of their diets was "poor," the study states.

"Only 12.4% of subjects met the recommended consumption of vegetables, 7.8% for fruit, 8% for cereal fiber, and 5.2% for trans fat intake," write Yungshen Ma, MD, PhD, and colleagues, who work at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Their findings appear in February's edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

High Blood Pressure Diet Study

The second study tracks the eating habits of people with high blood pressure (hypertension).

A total of 4,386 people who knew they had high blood pressure took part. They reported what they ate during a day and night.

Only 19% ate in accordance with the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which was designed for people with high blood pressure.

That data -- taken from government studies conducted from 1999 to 2004 -- show a 7% drop in the percentage of hypertension patients following the DASH diet compared with 1988-1994.

Too much fat and too little fiber and magnesium were common dietary downfalls, noted the researchers, including Philip Mellen, MD, of the Hypertension Center at the Hattiesburg Clinic in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Mellen's team reports the findings in the Feb. 11, 2008 edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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