Last updated on April 13th, 2017
The focus of the study being reported on here is how to prevent sudden cardiac death (SCD) in women. The study (published in the July 6 issue of JAMA) followed over 80,000 women, mostly white professionals, aged 30 to 55 at the start, from 1984 to 2010.
The participants completed lifestyle questionnaires every two to four years. During the study, 321 of the women died of a sudden heart-attack (or, in the language of science, 321 “SCD events occurred”). The median-age of the SCD victims was 72.
From their analysis of the data, the researchers identified four lifestyle factors that seem to lower the risk of SCD:
- Not smoking
- Having a BMI under 25
- Exercising 30 minutes or more per day
- Following a Mediterranean diet
Supposedly, these four factors had “an independent, statistically significant association with a lower risk of SCD.” So, even women who are active, reasonably slender, non-smokers may be at greater risk of SCD if they aren’t eating a diet that “emphasizes consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fish, and moderate alcohol.”
There is no indication that other diets were examined for a correlation with SCD risk. A Mediterranean diet can contain a wide range of carbs, with the amount of grains consumed being the key.
If a woman is unable to lose weight on a higher carb Mediterranean diet, and lacks the energy to exercise 30 minutes every day, she could try a low carb approach. Losing weight can lead to increased activity levels, so she might be trading two risk factors for one.
The researchers also admit that their study assume a causal relationship between lifestyle and risk of SCD — an assumption they themselves characterize as “large.”
As for what men should do, it’s anybody’s guess. I’m going to keep eating low-carb and not smoking.
U.K. researchers found that lowering salt intake for some 6,500 participants was correlated with lower blood-pressure, but not with a lower rate of heart disease and death. (I’m not sure anything correlates with a lower rate of death, which approaches 100% in most populations.)
The participants only reduced their salt intake moderately, so it could be that a more drastic reduction would show a correlation with less heart disease or stroke risk.
I haven’t systematically examined my own salt intake on my low carb way of eating, but it is probably lower than it was before. I am eating far fewer packaged foods (including canned soup, which used to be a lunch favorite and is often very high in sodium) and far fewer restaurant meals. My blood-pressure was never diagnosed as high, and since I’ve lost weight around the middle, I expect my blood pressure is just fine now, too, regardless of salt intake.
But there is no evidence that I’m salt sensitive. If I were, I wouldn’t increase my salt intake levels based on this British study.
This post on the blog of Andreas Eenfeldt, MD, pulls together links to 13 “modern high quality trials” that show low carb diets are better for weight loss than other diets.
The score is 13-0 in favor of low-carb. Says the good doctor: “It’s time for [experts] to take the science seriously.”
While Dr. Eenfeldt was specifically focusing on weight loss, many of the studies in his list also examine other health risks such as heart disease and diabetes. Low carb compares well on those counts, too.
The list is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to explore some of the scientific backing for the low-carb way of eating.