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Eat Better after a Heart Attack to Live Longer

Have you or a loved one suffered a heart attack? Has your doctor told you to change the way you eat? Are you left wondering what would be the best diet for you to follow now that you have recovered from your heart attack?

The results of a new study, published in the online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine, demonstrate that eating a well-balanced diet after a heart attack can increase your chances of living a full and healthy life.

According to researchers, “Myocardial infarction survivors who consume a higher-quality diet, which has been associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease in primary prevention, have lower subsequent all-cause mortality.”

Researchers examined the diets of 2,258 women and 1,840 men, based on their answers to survey questions. Each participant was given a score based on the health of their diet. The score was determined by using Alternative Healthy Index 2010. This index takes into account the amount of foods that could increase your risk of developing chronic disease (such as red meat, sugary soft drinks, and salt) compared to the amount of healthy foods that are eaten (such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods). 

Researchers also made allowances for the use of medication, participants’ medical history, and risk factors based on lifestyle.

Researchers concluded that those participants who were awarded the highest scores, or ate the healthiest diets, were at a much lower risk of having another heart attack as opposed to those whose diets were awarded lower scores, or ate the unhealthiest diets.

The study also found that participants who had a higher income were able to eat healthier diets  because healthier ingredients, such as fish and fresh fruits and vegetables, tend to be more expensive.

This study has faced criticism. Doctors have pointed out that the study did not take into account that participants eating a healthier diet might be adopting other heart-healthy lifestyle changes. 

Even still, this new study has yielded valuable information about the type of diet that should be followed after a heart attack. 

By examining what compromised the healthy diet of participants who received the highest scores, researchers determined that following a Mediterranean-style diet is your best option for increasing your chances of living a long and healthy life after suffering a heart attack.

This is ground-breaking information for cardiologists and their patients. Previously doctors would give heart attack sufferers a list of foods they couldn’t eat, leading to confusion about what they should eat. Many patients ended up trying to remove saturated fats and cholesterol from their diets, but then added in a bunch of carbohydrates and sugary beverages.

Now, with the results of this study highlighting the heart-healthy benefits of the Mediterranean diet, patients have a clear guideline to follow. To adopt a Mediterranean lifestyle, heart attack sufferers should: eat less red meat and eat more fish; eat more fruits and vegetables; eat more nuts, seeds, and whole grain products; and try to incorporate more products made with vegetable and plant oils and less products made with dairy.


SOURCES:;; Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap /

SOURCES:;; Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap /