Cut Down on Trans Fats to Cut Heart Attack, Stroke Risk – Study

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in several countries worldwide. Given the increasing number of heart disease deaths, heart experts are encouraging people to take precautions and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

In such an effort, researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine and Yale School of Medicine have suggested to restrict trans fats in order to prevent risks of heart disease.

According to the researchers, cutting down on trans fats may help ward off cardiovascular diseases including heart attack, strokes and heart failure.

The scientists came up with the evidence after comparing outcomes for people living in New York counties that have eliminated the use of trans fats in restaurants and eateries in recent years and that did not impose any restrictions.

The findings showed that hospitalisation for heart attacks and strokes is less among people living in the areas that restrict trans fats in foods compared to areas where there is no restrictions.

“Our study highlights the power of public policy to impact the cardiovascular health of a population,” said lead author Eric Brandt, MD, a clinical fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Yale School of Medicine.

Trans fats, or trans-unsaturated fatty acids, or trans fatty acids, are commonly found in fried foods, chips, crackers and baked goods (cakes, cookies, pie crusts etc.). Eating even minimal amounts of these fats is more hazardous for your heart.

For the study, Brandt and his team combed through data drew from New York communities that imposed a ban on trans fats and those that didn’t. The team focused on hospital admissions for those suffering from a heart attack and stroke in New York counties between the years 2002 and 2013.

They found that three or more years after the restrictions were implemented, people living in areas with the bans had significantly fewer hospital visits for these heart conditions when compared to areas where there were no such restrictions.

The team found that the decline was 6.2 percent for the combined conditions. “It is a pretty substantial decline,” Brandt said.

“The results are impressive, given that the study focused on trans fatty acid bans in restaurants, as opposed to complete bans that included food bought in stores,” added study co-author Tamar S. Polonsky, MD, MSCI, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. “If we enact a more complete restriction on trans fatty acids, it could mean even more widespread benefits for people long term.”

The study is published in the journal JAMA Cardiology.