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Help Turn Heart Failure Around through Low-Sodium Diet

First Posted: Sep 24, 2013 10:13 PM EDT
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Changing your diet in order to combat various cardiovascular problems can make a significant impact on your health, according to recent research from the Heart Failure Society of America, who recently had a meeting in Orlando, Fla.

The information shows that after 21 days of following a low-sodium Dietary Approach in order to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, many patients saw a significant drop in blood pressure that was similar to what they would have seen had they been taking anti-hypertension medications.

 "Our work suggests diet could play an important role in the progression of heart failure, 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."

Background information via the study notes that heart failure, or "diastolic" heart failure, often happens when the heart stiffens and the body is unable to pump enough blood out. This condition is found in more than half of older adults who are suffering from heart failure, and though taking diuretics can provide some relieve by ridding the body of excess fluid, this type of heart failure currently has no treatment.

The participants involved in the research, therefore, agreed to keep food diaries after meals in the metabolic kitchen at the University of Michigan Clinical Research Unit. Most heart failure patients were in their 60s and 70s.

The meals were picked up and heated at home for ingestion, composed primarily of potassium, magnesium, calcium and antioxidants, a diet that's recommended for the hypertension treatment by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

The diet also contained a daily sodium intake of no more than 1,150 milligrams, much lower than the usual intake seen by adults in the United States.

Though the study was relatively small, it showed how the DASH diet can dramatically improve ventricular relaxation and reduce diastolic chamber stiffness, in turn, providing more efficiency for the heart muscle.

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