People who skip breakfast and eat dinner near bedtime have worse outcomes after a heart attack. That's the finding of research conducted by São Paolo State University, Brazil researchers.
The study found that people with the two eating habits had a four to five times higher likelihood of death, another heart attack, or angina (chest pain) within 30 days after hospital discharge for heart attack.
This was the first study to evaluate these unhealthy behaviours in patients with acute coronary syndromes. Skipping breakfast was observed in 58%, late-night dinner eating in 51%, and both behaviours in 41%.
The study enrolled patients with a particularly serious form of heart attack called ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). "One in ten patients with STEMI dies within a year, and nutrition is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to improve prognosis," said the one of the researchers. He recommended a minimum two hour interval between dinner and bedtime.
About the study
The study included 113 patients with an average age of 60, and 73 per cent were men. Patients were asked about eating behaviours on admission to a coronary intensive care unit. Skipping breakfast was defined as nothing before lunch, excluding beverages, such as coffee and water, at least three times per week. Late-night dinner eating was defined as a meal within two hours before bedtime at least three times per week.
Previous studies have found that people who miss breakfast and have a late dinner are more likely to have other unhealthy habits such as smoking and low levels of physical activity.
The new findings show that the two eating behaviours are independently linked with poorer outcomes after a heart attack, and having both habits can make things worse.
The researchers believe that the inflammatory response, oxidative stress, and endothelial function could be involved in the association between unhealthy eating behaviours and cardiovascular outcomes.
In this study, statin use before hospital admission was higher in the group with unhealthy eating habits and worse outcome. The researchers noted that there is some controversy regarding eating habits of people using statins. This study suggests that patients with STEMI perceive statins as an alternative path to health benefits. But these drugs should be an addition to healthy eating habits, not a replacement, they said.
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