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The science behind the heartmatters™
Lifestyle, particularly eating habits and physical activity, has proven over many years of research to have positive benefits in improving heart health.1
heartmatters™ translates individual information into evidence-based dietary advice and other behavioral modifications, helping individuals adopt essential permanent lifestyle changes to prevent, manage and reverse risks of CVD.
National nutrition guidelines for managing cholesterol and blood pressure, coupled with original dietary studies by nationally renowned nutrition, weight loss and diabetes-reversal expert, Dr. Michael Dansinger and other researchers, have been used to formulate our novel approach.
Personalized Nutrition Plans, based on each patient’s unique test results and preferences, coupled with guidelines and the latest research findings are provided to guide dietary intake. Lifestyle coaching and support tools help encourage compliance and maximize every patient’s ability to successfully manage and reverse their CVD.
The Science of Diet in Managing Cardiovascular Risk
heartmatters bases its dietary modifications on three key elements scientifically proven to decrease and manage cardiovascular risk factors: caloric reduction, avoidance of excess saturated fat and restriction of excess dietary carbohydrate.
Excess body fat increases cardiovascular risk. Direct comparison of diets via randomized trials indicates reduction of cardiovascular risk factors is generally proportional to dietary adherence and weight loss, regardless of the diet type.
Successful dietary strategies to create weight loss utilize an appropriate mix of fats, proteins and carbohydrates to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease risk factors and diabetes.
"…diets that are successful in causing weight loss can emphasize a range of fat, protein, and carbohydrate compositions that have beneficial effects on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes."
- Sacks, New England Journal of Medicine (2009)2
heartmatters provides calorie-appropriate eating plans suited to the patient’s dietary preferences to maximize adherence while achieving optimal weight loss results.
Avoidance of Excess Dietary Saturated Fat
Too much saturated fat increases heart disease risk by increasing unhealthy LDL-C in the blood. Research has proven that heart disease risk factors are reduced by following a diet that replaces saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat.
“Epidemiologic studies and randomized clinical trials have provided consistent evidence that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat, but not carbohydrates, is beneficial for coronary heart disease. Therefore, dietary recommendations should emphasize substitution of polyunsaturated fat and minimally processed grains for saturated fat.”
- Siri-Tarino, Current Atherosclerosis Reports (2010)3
heartmatters dietary plans avoid excess dietary saturated fat, particularly important in the presence of existing CVD and/or high LDL-C levels.
Restriction of Excess Dietary Carbohydrate
Diets higher in protein and lower in refined carbohydrates have been associated with risk factor reduction for CVD, including increasing HDL-C and reducing blood pressure. Such diets have also been shown to reverse abnormalities associated with metabolic syndrome, particularly atherogenic dyslipidemia, especially in cases of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Consumption of whole grains has been associated with reduced risk of CVD and type 2 diabetes in large observational cohort studies. For individuals with high blood pressure, sodium restriction is recommended due to consistent evidence from large observational studies and randomized trials.
"Our results support a growing body of research suggesting that carbohydrate restriction and saturated fat restriction have different effects on cardiovascular risk profiles. Low carbohydrate diets consistently increase HDL cholesterol and low–saturated fat diets consistently decrease LDL cholesterol levels. Low carbohydrate diets have typically been more effective for short-term reduction of serum triglycerides, glucose, and/or insulin."
- Dansinger, JAMA (2005)4
heartmatters dietary plans manage carbohydrate intake while incorporating an appropriate balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, with particular attention to individual risk factors.
Individualized Dietary Guidance is Key
Effective dietary advice must be individualized—considering the patient’s specific medical conditions, food preferences and lifestyle factors—to facilitate maximum adherence and the best chance of long-term success.
This scientifically-supported premise makes heartmatters markedly different from other lifestyle programs designed to reduce and manage cardiovascular risk.
The Essential Role of Exercise
The benefits of physical activity are strongly and consistently associated with good heart health. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise at moderate intensity raises HDL-C, lowers total triglycerides, and decreases blood pressure and resting heart rate.
Studies conducted by the Corpus Christi Heart Project demonstrate that increased physical activity is associated with reduced cardiovascular event recurrence, and increased survival after a first myocardial infarction. Additional research and patient studies support these findings.5
Exercise advice provided as part of heartmatters is carefully developed to be appropriate for the individual, based on the patient’s current level of activity, and designed to be achievable in transitioning to a heart healthy lifestyle.
1. Angermayr L, Melchart D, Linde K., Multifactorial lifestyle interventions in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus--a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann Behav Med. 2010 Aug;40(1):49–64.
2. Sacks FM, Bray GA, Carey VJ, et al. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med. 2009;360:859–873.
3. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease: modulation by replacement nutrients. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2010;12:384–390.
4. Dansinger ML, Gleason JA, Griffith JL, Selker HP, Schaefer EJ. Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets for weight loss and heart disease risk reduction: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2005;293:43–53.
5. Steffen-Batey L, et al. Change in level of physical activity and risk of all-cause mortality or reinfarction: The Corpus Christi Heart Project. Circulation. 2000 Oct 31;102(18):2204–9.