An article published on April 29, 2014 in the British Medical Journal reveals an increase in the number of years lived by myocardial infarction (MI, or heart attack) survivors who consume a greater amount of fiber.
Doctoral candidate Shanshan Li of Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues utilized data from 1,840 men enrolled in the Health Professional Follow-Up Study and 2,258 women from the Nurses’ Health Study who had survived an initial heart attack during the studies’ follow-up periods. Dietary questionnaires completed every four years provided information on fiber intake before and after the heart attack. In a pooled analysis of all subjects, those whose post-MI intake of fiber was among the top one-fifth of participants had a 25% lower risk of dying from any cause over a nine year average follow-up in comparison with those whose intake was among the lowest fifth. When fiber was analyzed by source, cereal fiber emerged as significantly protective.
Heart attack survivors who increased their fiber intake from levels consumed before the event also experienced a decrease in all-cause as well as cardiovascular mortality. Among those whose intake of fiber was among the highest one-third prior to and following their events, there was a 27% lower risk of death in comparison with those whose intake was among the lowest third in both phases.
As possible mechanisms supporting the current findings, the authors list reductions in inflammation, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and lipid peroxidation, as well as improvements in insulin sensitivity, glycemic control and gut microbiota.
“Future research on lifestyle changes post-MI should focus on a combination of lifestyle changes and how they may further reduce mortality rates beyond what is achievable by medical management alone,” they conclude.