Before moving on to this week’s story, I’d like to take just a moment to introduce myself. After working as an editor at Diabetes Self-Management magazine for nearly six years, I’m taking over at the helm of the Web site. I’m extremely excited to begin my tenure as Web Editor and look forward to learning more about you through your comments and e-mails. And now, to the news…
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, diet is known to have a wide variety of health benefits, ranging from lowering blood pressure to protecting against osteoporosis and cancer. And recent joint research by scientists in Boston and Stockholm indicates that it may have still another benefit: helping to prevent heart failure in women.
The study, which was published in the May 11, 2009, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, involved more than 36,000 women from the Swedish Mammography Cohort (a group of women assembled to determine the relationship between various modifiable factors and the development of disease). All the women were between the ages of 48 and 83 and had no history of heart attack, heart disease, or diabetes at the start of the study. The women’s diets were evaluated using a food questionnaire, and DASH diet scores were assigned indicating how similar these diets were to the DASH diet (which is based on a high intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products).
Using hospital and cause-of-death registers covering the period from 1998 through 2004, the researchers determined that 443 of the women developed heart failure over the course of these seven years. After adjusting for other factors that affect heart failure risk, such as age and level of physical activity, it was determined that the rate of heart failure was 37% lower in the 25% of women who had most closely followed the DASH diet.
The study had several limitations, including minimal representation of people from groups that have high rates of heart failure (such as people with diabetes) and the lack of an outside standard to validate the DASH diet scores. However, as one of the study’s authors notes, the “DASH diet may contribute to prevention of heart failure in some cases because it effectively reduced blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in clinical trials.”
To learn more, visit the Web site of the Archives of Internal Medicine or read the piece “DASH Diet May Help Prevent Heart Failure in Women,” by Laurie Barclay, MD, on Medscape. (Free registration is required to view the content on Medscape.)