Over two-thirds of deaths from heart diseases worldwide could be prevented with healthier diets, say findings of a study published in European Heart Journal-Quality of Care and Clinical Outcomes. Over six million such deaths could be avoided by reducing the intake of junk food. They released the findings earlier this month on World Food Day to emphasise the significance of sticking onto affordable and sustainable healthy diets.
The study authors Dr Xinyao Liu of Central South University, China said that the top three contributors to heart diseases were high blood pressure, high serum cholesterol and unhealthy diets. The results of the study are consistent in both developing and developed countries, he added. Though the developed countries were progressive in preventing heart disease and improving survival, the number of cases keeps increasing because of population growth and ageing.
The study made use of the data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 that was conducted in around 195 countries between 1990 and 2017. About 126.5 million individuals were suffering from heart attacks and angina- collectively called ischaemic heart disease.
Apart from the top three contributors, the 11 risk factors causing death from ischaemic heart disease include smoking, alcohol consumption, high body mass index (BMI), low physical activity, exposure to air pollution etc. Tobacco use or smoking is ranked as the fourth top contributor to heart disease-related deaths.
The findings suggest that even if all the risk factors remain unchanged, 69.2 per cent of the deaths could be prevented by switching to a healthy diet. Along with the adoption of a healthy and balanced diet, geographically tailored strategies like reducing salt intake in countries with a high salt consumption habit will also be a beneficial preventive measure, Dr Liu said.