- A study found that a diet high in added fats, fried foods, processed meats, and sugary drinks was associated with a greater risk of sudden cardiac death, while a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower risk.
- The findings provide evidence that adopting a healthier diet may decrease the risk of sudden cardiac death.
Diet is known to influence heart health. Experts recommend a diet low in sodium and saturated fat to reduce the risk of heart disease. A heart-healthy diet also includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Research shows that the Mediterranean diet—full of fruits, vegetables, fish, cereals, and legumes, with little meat and dairy—may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Few studies have examined the relationship between overall diet and sudden cardiac death, a common cause of death in the United States. In sudden cardiac death, the heart abruptly stops beating, leading to death within an hour of symptoms. Small studies have suggested that the Mediterranean diet may lower the risk of sudden cardiac death.
A team led by Dr. James M. Shikany of the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined whether dietary patterns are associated with the risk of sudden cardiac death. The study was funded by NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institute on Aging (NIA), and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Results were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on July 6, 2021.