The Guardian (Nigeria)

How fried foods, sugary drinks raise risk of sudden cardiac death

- Compiled by Chukwuma Muanya

PARTICIPAN­TS in a large- scale study who more commonly consumed a Southern- style diet - high in added fats, fried foods, processed meats and sugary drinks - had a higher risk of sudden cardiac death than people who had lower adherence to a Southern- style diet.

According to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Associatio­n, an open access journal of the American Heart Associatio­n, regularly eating a Southern- style diet may increase the risk of sudden cardiac death, while routinely consuming a Mediterran­ean diet may reduce that risk.

The Southern diet is characteri­zed by added fats, fried foods, eggs, organ meats ( such as liver or giblets), processed meats ( such as deli meat, bacon and hotdogs) and sugarsweet­ened beverages. The Mediterran­ean diet is high in fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains and legumes and low in meat and dairy.

The study’s lead author and professor of medicine and associate director for research in the Division of Preventive Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. James M. Shikany, said: “While this study was observatio­nal in nature, the results suggest that diet may be a modifiable risk factor for sudden cardiac death, and, therefore, diet is a risk factor that we have some control over.

“Improving one’s diet- by eating a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish such as the Mediterran­ean diet and low in fried foods, organ meats and processed meats, characteri­stics of the Southern- style dietary pattern, may decrease one’s risk for sudden cardiac death.”

The study examined data from more than 21,000 people ages 45 and older enrolled in an ongoing national research project called Reasons for Geographic and Racial Difference­s in Stroke ( REGARDS), which is examining geographic and racial difference­s in stroke. Participan­ts were recruited between 2003 and 2007. Of the participan­ts in this analysis, 56 per cent were women; 33 per cent were Black adults; and 56 per cent lived in the southeaste­rn United States ( U. S.), which is noteworthy as a region recognized as the Stroke Belt because of its higher stroke death rate. The Stroke Belt states included in this study were North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississipp­i, Arkansas and Louisiana.

This study is the latest research to investigat­e the associatio­n between cardiovasc­ular disease and diet- which foods have a positive vs. negative impact on cardiovasc­ular disease risk. It may be the only study to- date to examine the associatio­n between dietary patterns with the risk of sudden cardiac death, which is the abrupt loss of heart function

that leads to death within an hour of symptom onset. Sudden cardiac death is a common cause of death and accounted for 1 in every 7.5 deaths in the United States in 2016, or nearly 367,000 deaths, according to 2019 American Heart Associatio­n statistics.

Researcher­s included participan­ts with and without a history of coronary heart disease at the beginning of the study and assessed diets through a food frequency questionna­ire completed at the beginning of the study. Participan­ts were asked how often and in what quantities they had consumed 110 different food items in the previous year.

Researcher­s calculated a Mediterran­ean diet score based on specific food groups considered beneficial or detrimenta­l to health. They also derived five dietary patterns. Along with the Southern- style eating pattern, the analysis included a “sweets” dietary pattern, which features foods with added sugars, such as desserts, chocolate, candy and sweetened breakfast foods; a “convenienc­e” eating pattern which relied on easy- tomake foods like mixed dishes, pasta dishes, or items likely to be ordered as take- out such as pizza, Mexican food and Chinese food; a “plant- based” dietary pattern was classified as being high in vegetables, fruits, fruit juices, cereal, bean, fish, poultry and yogurt; and an “alcohol and salad” dietary pattern, which was highly reliant on beer, wine, liquor along with green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and salad dressing.

Shikany noted that the patterns are not mutually exclusive. “All participan­ts had some level of adherence to each pattern, but usually adhered more to some patterns and less to others,” he explained. “For example, it would not be unusual for an individual who adheres highly to the Southern pattern to also adhere to the plant- based pattern, but to a much lower degree.”

After an average of nearly 10 years of follow- up every six months to check for cardiovasc­ular disease events, more than 400 sudden cardiac deaths had occurred among the 21,000 study participan­ts.

The study found: Overall, participan­ts who ate a Southernst­yle diet most regularly had a 46 per cent higher risk of sudden cardiac death than people who had the least adherence to this dietary pattern. Also, participan­ts who most closely followed the traditiona­l Mediterran­ean diet had a 26 per cent lower risk of sudden cardiac death than those with the least adherence to this eating style.

The American Heart Associatio­n’s Diet and Lifestyle recommenda­tions emphasize eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, fish, beans, legumes, nuts and nontropica­l vegetable cooking oils such as olive and canola oil. Limiting saturated fats, sodium, added sugar and processed meat are also recommende­d. Sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugar in the U. S. diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Heart

Associatio­n supports sugary drink taxes to drive down consumptio­n of these products.

A member of the American Heart Associatio­n’s Nutrition Committee of the Lifestyle and Cardio- metabolic Health Council, Dr. Stephen Juraschek, said: “These findings support the notion that a healthier diet would prevent fatal cardiovasc­ular disease and should encourage all of us to adopt a healthier diet as part of our lifestyles.

“To the extent that they can, people should evaluate the number of servings of fruit and vegetables they consume each day and try to increase the number to at least five- six servings per day, as recommende­d by the American Heart Associatio­n. Optimal would be 8- 9 servings per day.”

He continued: “This study

 ??  ?? Southern style diet may increase the risk of sudden cardiac death, while a Mediterran­ean diet may reduce that risk PHOTO: https:// www. labmanager. com
Southern style diet may increase the risk of sudden cardiac death, while a Mediterran­ean diet may reduce that risk PHOTO: https:// www. labmanager. com

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