Heart attack: The ‘important’ meal you should never skip or face ‘significant’ risk
Heart attacks occur when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. A lack of blood to the heart may seriously damage the heart muscle and can be life-threatening. Heart attacks are strongly linked to unhealthy lifestyle habits such as excessive alcohol consumption and eating too much salt. Mounting evidence suggests skipping breakfast may also heighten the risk.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that the risk of death from cardiovascular disease spiked by 87 percent for people who say they never eat the morning meal.
Skipping breakfast had a link to changes in appetite, higher blood pressure, dangerous changes in lipid levels and lower satisfaction after eating, the researchers said.
“In a nationally representative cohort with 17 to 23 years of follow-up, skipping breakfast was associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease,” the study authors wrote.
For the study, the researchers analysed data on 6,550 adults between 1988 and 1994 collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The participants ranged in age from 40 to 75, and none of them had a history of cancer or cardiovascular disease.
Among participants, a little over five percent of people never ate breakfast, nearly 11 percent rarely ate breakfast, 25 percent occasionally ate breakfast and close to 60 percent ate breakfast every day.
Our study supports the benefits of eating breakfast in promoting cardiovascular health
Commenting on the findings, the author said: “Our study supports the benefits of eating breakfast in promoting cardiovascular health.”
This follows a study back in 2017 that found skipping breakfast is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, or the hardening and narrowing of arteries due to a build-up of plaque.
People who regularly skip breakfast likely have an overall unhealthy lifestyle,” said study author Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, MACC director of Mount Sinai Heart and editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
He continued: “This study provides evidence that this is one bad habit people can proactively change to reduce their risk for heart disease.”
Researchers in Madrid examined male and female volunteers who were free from cardiovascular or chronic kidney disease.
A computerised questionnaire was used to estimate the usual diet of the participants, and breakfast patterns were based on the percentage of total daily energy intake consumed at breakfast.
Three groups were identified – those consuming less than five percent of their total energy intake in the morning (skipped breakfast and only had coffee, juice or other non-alcoholic beverages); those consuming more than 20 percent of their total energy intake in the morning (breakfast consumers); and those consuming between five and 20 percent (low-energy breakfast consumers). Of the 4,052 participants, 2.9 percent skipped breakfast, 69.4 percent were low-energy breakfast consumers and 27.7 percent were breakfast consumers.
Atherosclerosis was observed more frequently among participants who skipped breakfast and was also higher in participants who consumed low-energy breakfasts compared to breakfast consumers.
Additionally, cardiometabolic risk markers were more prevalent in those who skipped breakfast and low-energy breakfast consumers compared to breakfast consumers.
Participants who skipped breakfast had the greatest waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure, blood lipids and fasting glucose levels.
“Aside from the direct association with cardiovascular risk factors, skipping breakfast might serve as a marker for a general unhealthy diet or lifestyle which in turn is associated with the development and progression of atherosclerosis,” said Jose L. Peñalvo, PhD, assistant professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and the senior author of the study.
He added: “Our findings are important for health professionals and might be used as a simple message for lifestyle-based interventions and public health strategies, as well as informing dietary recommendations and guidelines.”
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