Researchers from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute, Salt Lake City, have found that intermittent fasting increases the longevity of cardiac catheterization patients. They also found that patients who follow intermittent fasting regularly are less likely to suffer from heart failure.
Study investigator Dr. Benjamin Horne said, “It’s another example of how we’re finding that regular fasting can lead to better health outcomes and longer lives.”
The findings of the study were presented on Saturday at the conference of the 2019 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia.
The researchers asked more than 2,000 Intermountain patients, who were undergoing cardiac catheterization between 2013 and 2015, about their lifestyles, including whether or not they were following intermittent fasting. The participants were followed up for 4.5 years.
The study authors found that patients who followed intermittent fastening had a high survival rate than patients who did not.
People who fast routinely are known to indulge in other healthy behaviors, so the researchers also evaluated other factors, such as socioeconomic status, demographics, cardiac risk factors, medications, treatments, and other lifestyle behaviors such as smoking and alcohol intake.
The researchers said, “Long-term routine fasting remained a strong predictor of better survival and lower risk of heart failure.”
However, Dr. Horne warned, “While many rapid weight loss fasting diets exist today, the different purposes of fasting in those diets and in this study should not be confused with the act of fasting. All proposed biological mechanisms of health benefits from fasting arise from effects that occur during the fasting period or are consequences of fasting.”
It is unclear why long-term intermittent fasting results in better health outcomes. However, Dr. Horne said it could be due to a host of factors that specifically lower the risk of heart failure and heart disease. Dr. Horne noted, “With the lower heart failure risk that we found, which is consistent with prior mechanistic studies, this study suggests that routine fasting at a low frequency over two-thirds of the lifespan is activating the same biological mechanisms that fasting diets are proposed to rapidly activate.”