Living better with heart failure by changing what you eat

September 24, 2013

Diet can dramatically lower hypertension and improve heart function in patients with a common type of heart failure, according to research presented at today's Heart Failure Society of America meeting in Orlando, Fla.

After 21 days of following a low-sodium Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, patients saw a drop in blood pressure similar to taking anti-hypertension medicine.

"Our work suggests diet could play an important role in the progression of , although patients should always talk to their doctor before making major dietary changes," says Scott Hummel, M.D., cardiologist at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center.

"We're excited to confirm these results in longer-term studies that also help us understand the challenges patients face when they try to improve their eating habits."

Heart failure with preserved , or "diastolic" heart failure, happens when the heart becomes stiff and does not pump out enough blood. The condition is found in more than half of older adults with heart failure. Although taking diuretics to help the body get rid of extra fluid is useful, this type of heart failure has no standard treatment.

The , most of them in their 60s and 70s, agreed to keep and eat only the meals prepared for them in the metabolic kitchen at the University of Michigan Clinical Research Unit.

The meals, which could be picked up and heated at home, matched the DASH diet eating plan, which is high in potassium, magnesium, calcium and antioxidants and is recommended for hypertension treatment by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

The study diet also contained a daily sodium intake of no more than 1,150 milligrams. That's much lower than what adults in the United States usually eat – about 4,200 mg a day for men, and 3,300 mg a day for women.

Doctors have long known that the low-sodium DASH diet can lower blood pressure in salt-sensitive patients.

The U-M study, although small, showed the DASH diet can improve left ventricular relaxation and reduce diastolic chamber stiffness, meaning a more efficient transfer of blood between the heart and arteries, Hummel says.

Explore further: Drug may improve outcomes after heart attack

More information: circheartfailure.ahajournals.o … MD8S1Czj&keytype=ref

Related Stories

Drug may improve outcomes after heart attack

March 12, 2013
The prescription drug eplerenone appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality and heart failure after a heart attack by more than one-third, according to research presented today at the American College of Cardiology's ...

Digoxin use associated with higher risk of death for patients diagnosed with heart failure

September 20, 2013
Digoxin, a drug commonly used to treat heart conditions, was associated with a 72 percent higher rate of death among adults with newly diagnosed systolic heart failure, according to a Kaiser Permanente study that appears ...

Elevated blood pressure increasing among children, adolescents

July 15, 2013
The risk of elevated blood pressure among children and adolescents rose 27 percent during a thirteen-year period, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

Studies support population-based efforts to lower excessive dietary sodium intakes

May 14, 2013
Recent studies that examine links between sodium consumption and health outcomes support recommendations to lower sodium intake from the very high levels some Americans consume now, but evidence from these studies does not ...

Yin-yang effect of sodium and chloride presents salt conundrum

September 8, 2013
'Eat less salt' is a mantra of our health-conscious times and is seen as an important step in reducing heart disease and hypertension.

Study uncovers mechanism for how grapes reduce heart failure associated with hypertension

May 2, 2013
A study appearing in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry demonstrates that grapes are able to reduce heart failure associated with chronic high blood pressure (hypertension) by increasing the activity of several genes ...

Recommended for you

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

Quantifying effectiveness of treatment for irregular heartbeat

July 17, 2017
In a small proof-of-concept study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report a complex mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart can successfully predict the effectiveness of catheter ablation, the ...

Concerns over side effects of statins stopping stroke survivors taking medication

July 17, 2017
Negative media coverage of the side effects associated with taking statins, and patients' own experiences of taking the drugs, are among the reasons cited by stroke survivors and their carers for stopping taking potentially ...

Study discovers anticoagulant drugs are being prescribed against safety advice

July 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham has shown that GPs are prescribing anticoagulants to patients with an irregular heartbeat against official safety advice.

Protein may protect against heart attack

July 14, 2017
DDK3 could be used as a new therapy to stop the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries

Heart study finds faulty link between biomarkers and clinical outcomes

July 14, 2017
Surrogate endpoints (biomarkers), which are routinely used in clinical research to test new drugs, should not be trusted as the ultimate measure to approve new health interventions in cardiovascular medicine, according to ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

msatin
not rated yet Sep 25, 2013
The preponderance of medical evidence, as highlighted in the recent IOM report on the Consequences of Sodium Reduction (National Research Council. Sodium Intake in Populations: Assessment of Evidence. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013), concludes that salt reduction is NOT warranted for patients with heart failure. That IOM data is far more comprehensive than this report is. In this study, it is not salt reduction in any way that is responsible for the positive result. In is the shift to a Mediterranean-type diet (which the DASH diet is copied from with the exception of olive oil being replace by American-based oils).

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.