It has been known since Roman times that the Mediterranean diet, rich in fruit, vegetables and, above all, virgin olive oil, is good for the health and doctors also know that it helps to prevent cardiovascular illnesses, but what was not known until now is that it also prevents a recurrence of heart attacks and strokes.
Scientists have discovered this thanks to monitoring more than 1,000 cardiovascular patients for seven years, and their findings have just been published in The Lancet medical journal, under the title Long-term secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet and a low-fat diet (CORDIOPREV).
Off the 1,002 heart patients aged between 20 and 76 who took part in the study, 500 were given a low-fat diet and the remainder followed the Mediterranean diet. The aim was to evaluate how many suffered new major cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, bypass, stents, stroke, and sudden death.
The average age of those who took part in the study was 59.5, and most were men (82.5%) because they are more susceptible to coronary disease than women. The results showed that 198 participants suffered another event during the trial, 87 of whom were following the Mediterranean diet and 111 on the low-fat diet. The rate of recurrence in those on the Mediterranean diet was between 25% and 30% lower than normal, although both diets proved to have beneficial effects.
Dr López Miranda, who led the research, said the study showed that in patients with coronary disease, the Mediterranean diet has a greater effect on preventing recurrence than the low-fat diet, and Dr Delgado Lista, of the University of Cordoba, agreed that the results were of major significance for everyday clinical practice.
Cardiovascular illness is still one of the highest causes of death in Spain and in Europe. In 2020 in Spain, 119,853 people died from this cause, which was 24.3% of total deaths. Lifestyle is a major factor in preventing the occurrence and recurrence of cardiovascular events, combined with medication and other procedures.