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Strong adherence to the Mediterranean diet protects women from sudden cardiac death; DASH Diet lacked this effect (at least in this study)

Jan 16, 2014

Strong adherence to the Mediterranean diet protects women from sudden cardiac death; DASH Diet lacked this effect (at least in this study)

A study published online December 18, 2103 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that postmenopausal women who strongly adhered to the Mediterranean diet had a 33% lower risk of sudden cardiac death compared to poor adherers. According to the Cleveland Clinic sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a sudden, unexpected death caused by loss of heart function (sudden cardiac arrest). Sudden cardiac death is the largest cause of natural death in the United States, causing about 325,000 adult deaths in the United States each year. Sudden cardiac death is responsible for half of all heart disease deaths.

The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of fresh vegetables and fruits, high quality olive oil, whole grains, nuts, poultry and fish, and a moderate consumption of red wine, along with low consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat, and little or no red meat. The diet has been linked with a reduction in the risk of dementia, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, bone loss and to improved lung health. It was recently connected to a reduced risk of dying in younger people.

The researchers evaluated the level of adherence to a Mediterranean diet or the DASH) diet and its effects on sudden cardiac death in 93,122 participants who enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative study between 1993 and 1998. Dietary questionnaires completed twice during the 10.5 year average follow-up period were scored on adherence to both diets.

Over the follow-up period, among those whose Mediterranean diet scores were in the top 20%, there was an adjusted 33% lower risk of sudden cardiac death compared to women with scores in the lowest 20%. Higher DASH diet scores were not correlated with a lower risk of sudden cardiac death after adjustment for numerous factors. The authors point out that increased consumption of fish is linked with a lower risk of sudden cardiac death which was demonstrated in their findings and in other studies.