Eating Fibre After A Heart Attack May Prolong Life

After having a heart attack, people who eat foods containing fibre, in particular cereal fibre, may live for longer than people who eat less fibre.

What do we know already?

A heart attack happens when the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen and part of it dies. This usually happens when one of the vessels that take blood and oxygen to the heart is suddenly blocked.

Heart attacks are medical emergencies, which need to be treated in hospital straight away. After a heart attack, making lifestyle changes can help some people to recover and live for longer.

A previous study of people who’d had a heart attack looked at whether those who ate more foods with a lot of fibre (such as beans and lentils, wholegrain cereals, oats, fruits and vegetables) lived for longer than people who ate less fibre. It suggested fibre wasn’t linked to how long people lived after a heart attack. But the study had problems, so we can’t be sure the results were reliable.

How was the new study done?

The researchers looked at a group of about 4000 people who’d had a heart attack. All the people had filled in questionnaires before and after their heart attack about how often they had eaten certain foods. Based on how much fibre they ate, the people were divided into five groups. This allowed the researchers to see if how much fibre people ate was linked to how long they lived after their heart attack. The researchers followed the people for an average of nine years after their heart attack.

What does the new study say?

Around 1100 people died during the study. About half of these people died of heart problems. People in the group who ate the most fibre after a heart attack were less likely to die during the study, of heart problems or any other cause, than people who ate the least amount of fibre. For every 10-gram increase in the amount of fibre people ate each day (about the amount in two medium-sized pears), their chance of dying during the study was 15 percent lower. Cereal fibre, the kind in breakfast cereals, had the most effect on how long people were likely to live.

How much fibre people ate before they had a heart attack did not affect how long they lived after a heart attack. But people who increased the amount of fibre they ate after a heart attack were less likely to die during the study than people who didn’t increase how much fibre they ate.

How reliable is the research?

The researchers adjusted the results to account for things that might affect how long people live after a heart attack, such as people’s age, health, their lifestyle, and the other things they ate. However, there are still things that might have affected the results. For example, we don’t know what type of treatment people had after their heart attack. This could have made a big difference to how well they recovered and how long they lived.

Using questionnaires isn’t always a reliable way of finding out what people eat. And people who were motivated to eat more fibre may have made other changes to their diet and lives that could have affected how long they lived. We also can’t be certain that it was the fibre in the high-fibre foods, and not other nutrients, which helped people live longer after a heart attack.

What does this mean for me?

If you’ve had a heart attack, it’s likely that doctors have suggested making lifestyle changes to help reduce your chances of having another heart attack. These changes may include eating less meat and unhealthy fats, and eating more oily fish, fruits, and vegetables. These new findings suggest that eating more fibre is another change worth considering. You can make simple adjustments to your diet to get more fibre, such as eating wholegrain rather than white bread, and choosing a high-fibre breakfast cereal such as muesli.

Source: Best Health