Study: Heart-Attack Survivors Who Eat Lots of Fibre Live Longer

30 Apr 2014 --- Heart-attack survivors are more likely to live for a further nine years if they follow a high-fibre diet, according to a study in the British Medical Journal. The findings showed that for every daily 10g increase in fibre intake, there was a corresponding 15% drop in ‘risk of death’ during the study.

A team of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health analysed data from two large US studies, involving more than 4,000 men and women who had survived their first heart attack, and had provided information about their diet via questionnaires.  These people were followed for an average of nine years after their heart attacks, during which time 682 of the women and 451 of the men died.

The results showed that those who ate the most fibre had a 25% lower chance of dying from any cause during the nine years, compared with the fifth who ate the least.

“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,” the researchers concluded.

On average most people in the UK get about 14g of fibre a day, versus a target of at least 18g for adults. US experts meanwhile, recommend a minimum of up to 38g a day for men and 25g for women. Less than 5% of Americans reach this target.

"High-fibre foods are a key part of a healthy balanced diet, and this study suggests they may have a particular benefit for heart-attack survivors,” said Victoria Taylor, from the British Heart Foundation. "Fibre comes from a range of foods, including fruit and veg, beans and lentils, and also from cereal products, which this study found to be particularly beneficial.

A low-fibre diet is associated with constipation and gut diseases, such as diverticulosis and bowel cancer, but it may also have implications for heart health, according to the US study.

A recent study, also published in the BMJ, showed eating more cereals and whole grains could reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. The researchers, from Imperial College London, found that for every 10g a day increase in fibre intake, there was a 10% drop in the risk of bowel cancer.

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