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DASH Diet Reduces Heart Failure in Women


The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet have long been proven to reduce hypertension and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. This reduction, in turn, helps reduce the effects of heart disease and stroke. A new study in the May 11 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine looked at women, diet, and congestive heart failure (CHF).

The researchers looked at data involving 36,019 women who participated in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. The Swedish Mammography Cohort includes women born between 1914 and 1948 living in Västmanland and Uppsala counties in central Sweden who completed questionnaires between September 1997 and January 1998. Basic demographic, behavioral, and anthropometric data and consumption of foods and beverages were recorded. Participants who had a history of HF, myocardial infarction (MI), or diabetes mellitus at the beginning of the study were excluded. Follow up of the participants was done from January 1, 1998, to December 31, 2004, using linkage to the Swedish inpatient and cause-of-death registers.

The participants’ diets received four scores: 1) DASH diet component score; 2) food and nutrient recommendations based on Folsom et al; 3) food recommendations based on National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute food intake recommendations; and 4) nutrient recommendations based on National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute guidelines for consumption of nutrients.

The women in the top quartile of the DASH component score ate more fruit (3.0 servings), vegetables (3.5 servings), and whole grains (5.1 servings) than the women in the bottom quartile (1.4 servings of fruit, 1.8 servings of vegetable, 3.3 serving of whole grains). The women in the top quartile ate less red or processed meat per day than those in the bottom quartile (0.8 servings compared to 1.3 servings).

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During 7 years of follow-up, 443 of 36 019 women developed CHF (415 hospitalizations and 28 deaths with CHF as the primary diagnosis), corresponding to a rate of 18.1 per 10 000 women per year. These women tended to be older, have a higher body mass index, have a history of hypertension, have high cholesterol, and were more likely to be current smokers.

After controlling for these other risk factors, the score based on ranking participant intake of DASH diet components was significantly associated with a 37% lower incidence of CHF. Women with scores in the upper 10% had half the rate of CHF compared with women with scores in the lowest quartile. The other scores also seemed to be associated with lower rates of CHF, but did not reach statistical significance.

The DASH diet features high intake of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains, resulting in high potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber consumption, moderately high protein consumption, and low total and saturated fat consumption.

Related Article

Consistency With the DASH Diet and Incidence of Heart Failure; Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(9):851-857; Emily B. Levitan, ScD; Alicja Wolk, DrMedSci; Murray A. Mittleman, MD, DrPH
DASH Diet (pdf)