Aim: To update dietetic guidelines based on systematic review evidence on dietary advice to prevent further events in people with existing cardiovascular disease (CVD) (secondary prevention).
Methods: The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE and EMBASE were comprehensively searched to January 2005 for systematic reviews on aspects of diet and heart health. Reviews were included if they searched systematically for randomized controlled trials relating to diet and secondary prevention of CVD. Each review was critically appraised by at least two members of the UK Heart Health and Thoracic Dietitians Group. The quality and results of each review were discussed and summarized at a group meeting.
Results: Evidence-based strategies that reduce cardiovascular events in those with CVD include reduction in saturated fat and substitution with unsaturated fats. Individuals who have suffered a myocardial infarction may also benefit from adopting a Mediterranean type diet and increasing intake of omega 3 fats, but it is not clear whether they are beneficial for all patients with CVD. There is no systematic review evidence to support the use of antioxidant vitamins supplements, low glycaemic index diets, or homocysteine lowering therapies in this group.
Conclusion: There remains good evidence that reducing saturated fat reduces morbidity in patients with CVD. This advice is consistent for most manifestations of CVD, with the addition of Mediterranean dietary advice and increased omega 3 fats for those who have had a myocardial infarction.