Professor Peter Thompson of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research has called for more research into reducing the risk of heart attacks through lifestyle modification.
In an article in the June issue of Medical Forum WA, Perkins Deputy Director Professor Thompson stated that there was limited hard evidence that lifestyle modification such as regular exercise and dieting was categorically linked to the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
While medical advice relating to diet and exercise has coincided with a decline in cardiovascular events over the past 40 years; according to Professor Thompson, there is a lack of clinical trial evidence proving that lifestyle modification reduces the risk of a heart attack.
In the article Professor Thompson said the available evidence proved that diet and exercise increased quality of life and improvements to risk markers like blood pressure, but that it did not clearly translate to lower heart attack and stroke rates.
Professor Thompson also said that studies did not show a direct link between weight loss and risk of heart attack, although there was a link between abdominal obesity and the so-called “metabolic syndrome”.
The science surrounding low-fat diets is also controversial according to Professor Thompson, with some studies linking saturated fat intake to cardiovascular health, and others showing no such link.
However, Professor Thompson noted that there was a clear scientific consensus when it came to the effect that smoking has on cardiovascular health, citing a 2010 study from the US Surgeon General.
Professor Thompson said that he was an enthusiastic supporter of the Heart Foundation’s health promotion campaigns, and that he recommended lifestyle modification to his patients almost daily.