Fasting once a month may help protect your heart

November 14th, 2007 - 8:38 am ICT by admin  
A team at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City conducted the research, which was based on the religious practices in members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS or Mormons).

LSDs were found to have lower rates of heart disease than other Americans back in the 1970s, and researchers say that their religious practice may be the reason.

“People who fast seem to receive a heart-protective benefit, and this appeared to also hold true in non-LDS people who fast as part of a health-conscious lifestyle,” said Benjamin D. Horne, Ph.D., M.P.H., study author.

As a part of their research the team first examined the records of the Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study registry comprised of patients who had undergone coronary angiography, an X-ray examination of the blood vessels of the heart to look for blockages, between 1994 and 2002.

Of those patients, 4,629 men and women, average age 64, could clearly be diagnosed either with coronary artery disease (CAD) - which is at least 70 percent narrowing or blockage detected in at least one artery, or as free of significant CAD - less than 10 percent narrowing or blockage. As expected, CAD was less prevalent in patients who identified their religious preference as LDS than those who stated another or no religious preference. Sixty-one percent of LDS members had CAD versus 66 percent of others.

“When we adjusted for smoking, or looked just at the non-smokers, we still found a lower rate of CAD in people having an LDS religious preference. We thought this was very interesting, so we devised a survey about other behaviours associated with LDS that might bring a health benefit,” Horne said.

In the second part of the study, 515 patients (average age 64) who underwent coronary angiography between 2004 and 2006, completed a survey that included religious preference as well as several specific practices encouraged by the LDS church: not smoking; fasting (abstaining from food and drink for two consecutive meals); not drinking tea, coffee or alcohol; observing a weekly day of rest; attending worship services; and donating time, goods or money to charity.

Of this group, those who fasted were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with CAD (59 percent had 70 percent or greater blockage) than those who did not fast (67 percent had 70 percent or greater blockage).

“Fasting was the strongest predictor of lower heart disease risk in the people we surveyed. About 8 percent of the people who fasted did not express an LDS religious preference, and they also had less coronary disease,” Horne said.

Fasting was associated with lower odds of being diagnosed with CAD by 39 percent. When the researchers compared only those diagnosed with CAD with those who had minimal or no coronary disease (less than 10 percent blockage), the impact of fasting was even more striking, with the odds of a CAD diagnosis being lower by 45 percent.

The study is limited because it is not a randomized or controlled trial, and it only includes people who had sufficient symptoms to undergo coronary angiography, the gold standard assessment for CAD. Also, there could be other factors associated with fasting that are the actual causes of the reduced degree of coronary stenosis seen in this study.

The results of the research were reported at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2007. (ANI)

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