Periodic Fasting Associated With An Increased Risk of Cardiac Mortality: Study

A common kind of intermittent fasting that involves limiting your eating window to just 8 hours a day has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease-related death. However, some scientists contend that since the quality of our diet is likely more important than when we eat, people with pre-existing medical issues may unintentionally choose intermittent fasting if their symptoms or medications impact their appetite.

Although the long-term consequences of time-restricted eating are unknown, it has been previously associated with improved blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels.

In order to find out more, researchers led by Wenze Zhong of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China examined data from almost 20,000 adults who took part in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey—roughly equal numbers of men and women. They were 49 years old on average, and less than 75 percent of them were white non-Hispanic individuals.

Participants in the survey self-reported their dietary information annually between 2003 and 2018. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s death records from 2003 to 2019 were then compared with this by the researchers. Participants could only be considered if they had completed two diet questionnaires during the survey’s first year and were at least 20 years old.

Even while intermittent fasting is frequently praised for its ability to lengthen life, the team discovered that, after an average follow-up period of eight years, individuals who ate within an 8-hour daily window did not live longer than those with a more regular eating schedule of 12 to 16 hours.

Additionally, the researchers discovered that individuals who ate every eight hours had a 91% higher risk of dying from heart disease during the follow-up period than those who ate every twelve to sixteen hours.

Eating within an 8 to 10-hour window was associated with a 66% higher risk of heart disease death in individuals with pre-existing cardiac problems than eating within a 12- to 16-hour window. Eating within a window of more than 16 hours after receiving a cancer diagnosis was linked to a decreased probability of dying from the disease than eating within more restrictive timeframes.

According to Zhong, the study, which was presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) Epidemiology and Prevention conference in Chicago, does not demonstrate that any of these deaths were related to time-restricted eating.

Benjamin Horne of the Intermountain Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah, asserts that it is critical to take into account the participants’ motivations for adhering to a time-restricted diet. According to him, some people may have deliberately followed this pattern, while others may have had restricted eating windows as a result of medical issues or therapies that reduced their appetite.

Due to limited access to food, some may have also followed a restricted eating schedule, according to Jo Ann Carson, the former chair of the AHA nutrition committee. Food insecurity may be linked to heart disease-causing bad habits, according to research. According to Carson,  “We also know nothing about the healthfulness of the foods they ate,”

The authors of the publication note that the self-reported dietary data they used for their research may not be reliable. They intend to look into if the results hold true for individuals from a wider variety of ethnic backgrounds and whether fasting may raise the possibility of negative health consequences.

“Regardless of the time of day they eat, people should aim for an overall heart-healthy dietary pattern” if they want to lower their risk of dying young, according to Carson. According to Horne, people who want to begin intermittent fasting should first consult with their physician.