Doctors warn the Med-Diet isn’t the answer to heart disease
In case you’ve missed the memo, the Mediterranean diet is currently the shizzle of the health industry.
The veggie-rich, protein moderate and good fats embracing eating plan based on the dietary habits of the popular holiday region has been hailed with helping everything from longevity, memory, Alzheimer’s disease and weight management.
But it’s been the Mediterranean diet’s apparent ability to help prevent heart disease that has got everyone so excited, with some saying that it has an even higher rate of effectiveness than statins — the world’s most popular prescription drugs used in the fight against cholesterol.
These miracle claims were the focus of a recent global medical conference in Rome where data from a long-term study dubbed the Moli-sani project was presented as proof the diet could be the answer to one of the the world’s biggest killers.
Based in the Italian region of Molise, the Moli-sani project looked at the diet of 25,000 people.
What researchers found was that locals who adhered closest to the Mediterranean diet guidelines were 37 per cent less likely to die early from heart-related illness.
Speaking at the conference, leading heart disease expert Prof Giovanni de Gaetano said: “So far research has focused on the general population, which is mainly composed of healthy people.
“What happens to people who have already suffered from cardiovascular disease? Is the Mediterranean diet optimal for them too?”
The prospect that we could solve this with a fairly easy, and delicious, change-up of eating habits probably sounds a lot more appetising and holistically sound than a daily dose of chemicals.
But the Heart Foundation’s chief medical advisor Garry Jennings, who is also in Italy for the conference, has urged caution and to embracing the findings at face value.
A healthy diet as part of a healthy lifestyle and statins should be combined, he suggested.
“The evidence for statin use in everyone who has had a heart attack who can tolerate them is unequivocal and comes from large scale randomised trials, which is a higher level of evidence than this observational study,” he said in a statement on Monday.
According to Dr Richard Kidd, a Brisbane-based GP, a combination of diet and exercise are always recommended for people at low risk of cardiovascular disease.
But for those those at high risk end of the spectrum, it should never be a case of choosing one or the other. Instead, continual use of statins in tandem with a healthier diet and lifestyle are always prescribed to reduce the risk of someone dying from heart disease.
“As the risk increases you become a lot more aggressive in terms of interventions because at the end of the day someone who is at high risk you want to do everything you can to reduce the chances of them having a severe heart attack or stroke,” Dr Kidd said.
“We know that whatever risk a person has got if you give them a statin you reduce their risk of a heart attack by a third.”
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