Health

Four more people have heart attacks for every 100,000 residents in a year

Junk food DOES increase your risk of a heart attack: New study claims that in the first year a new take-out joint opens an additional four people per 100,000 living in the vicinity will suffer a cardiac event

  • A new study looked at cases of heart attacks compared to the fast food restaurant density in New South Wales, Australia
  • For each new chain that opened there four more people per 100,000 per year suffered heart attacks
  • This held true when adjusting for other risk factors such as age, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and socioeconomic status

More people have heart attacks for each new fast food restaurant that opens, a new study suggests.

Scientists found that every time a chain opened its doors, an additional four people per 100,000 suffered the medical episode. 

Past research has linked an increase in fast-food consumption with a greater risk for metabolic diseases, including cardiovascular disease.

But the Australian team, from the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health (HNE Health), says this study is among the first to associate heart attacks with increased fast‐food availability.

A new study from researchers in Australia found that each new fast food restaurant that opened, there was an increase in heart attacks in four people per 100,000 per year

For the study, published in the Internal Medicine Journal, the study looked at whether the number of fast-food outlets in an area could be considered a risk factor for heart attacks.

A heart attack occurs when a blood clot – usually due to fat or cholesterol – blocks the flow of blood to the heart.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women and almost every racial group in the U.S  

‘Heart attack is one of the leading causes of death worldwide’ said study co-author Dr Tarunpreet Saluja from the University of Newcastle.

‘However, recent data suggests that an increasing number of heart attacks cannot be explained by known risk factors.’ 

The team compared all cases of heart attack in the Hunter-New England Health District of Australia, which is in New South Wales, with the Fast-Food Outlet Density (FFD) of each local area.

Researchers focused on the 10 most popular fast-food outlets in Australia – such as Subway, McDonald’s and KFC – and then used census data to determine the density per 100,000 people.

The team found that for each new fast-food restaurant that opened up, the number of heart attacks per 100,000 people increased by four per year.

This held true when adjusting for other risk factors such as age, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and socioeconomic status.   

Dr Andrew Boyle, study co-author and cardiologist at John Hunter Hospital, said this study is the first to show that the number of fast food stores itself in a predicting factor of heart attacks.

‘Until now there has been very little data on the link between fast-food outlet density and heart attacks, so these results should provide an important consideration for future public‐health policy and community development,’ he said. 

Researchers say that future studies are needed to corroborate these findings and look into why the density of chains increase heart attack risk.

 ‘There is a well-established link between fast food consumption and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack,’ said Saluja

‘This highlights the need to explore the role of food availability in the probability of having a heart attack.’   

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