ACC Hospital Food Initiative: Don’t Leave a Critical Component of Heart Health on the Table
Jan 18, 2018 | Stephen Devries, MD, FACC; Neal D. Barnard, MD, FACC; Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC Expert Analysis
Consider this common scenario: your patient admitted three days ago with an acute myocardial infarction is doing well under your care. The emergent PCI went smoothly and a beta blocker, ACE inhibitor, statin and dual antiplatelet agents are on board.
Your patient has experienced no complications and discharge is anticipated soon.But despite this seemingly flawless course, it might surprise you to learn that there could still be one critical element of your patient’s hospital care that threatens to sabotage a successful long-term outcome.
It involves potent PO agents administered TID to your patients—their hospital food. Many of us may not be aware of the food served to our patients, including the meals that emerge from a well-intentioned order for a “cardiac diet.” In some hospitals, the differential diagnosis for dinner might very well include fried chicken, hot dogs, doughnuts and cola.
Such choices are often provided by food services in order to please recovering patients with “comfort food”—partially in the quest for high patient satisfaction ratings.
An elegant study led by Dr. Robert Vogel 20 years ago proved that a single unhealthy meal can acutely impair endothelial function.
Probably not the best plan for our post-MI patient. And long-term, the evidence in support of nutrition for cardiac protection is incontrovertible. The Lyon Mediterranean Diet Study showed a striking 72% reduction in major cardiovascular events over nearly 5 years for those on a Mediterranean-style diet compared to controls.
And a randomized controlled study, the Lifestyle Heart Trial, including a low-fat vegetarian diet paired with a program of stress management and physical activity, has actually demonstrated a regression of coronary artery disease…