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Does intermittent fasting pose a serious risk to heart health? Learn key points from a study health news

For some time, fitness enthusiasts have been swearing by intermittent fasting for its numerous health benefits – from its beneficial effects on metabolism to weight loss and even controlling high blood pressure and aiding heart health. With almost every fitness influencer and fitness enthusiast, including several celebrities, endorsing this fasting method, intermittent fasting has become a common fitness tool. So it came as a big shock when at the Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Scientific Sessions 2024, held March 18-21 in Chicago, the American Heart Association announced that their research showed that adults following an eight-hour time-restricted eating schedule regularly 12-16 hours per day 91% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than eating on time.

According to the news report, senior study author Victor Wenze Zhong, professor and chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in China, said that restricting daily eating time to short periods, such as 8 hours per day, can reduce weight and improve heart health. Gained popularity in recent years, “the long-term health effects of time-restricted eating, including risk of death from any cause or cardiovascular disease, are unknown.”

Intermittent Fasting: A Red Flag for the Heart? What does the study say?

Check out highlights of the study that studied 20,000 adults over the age of 49:

1. Those who followed a routine that ate all their meals in less than 8 hours per day had a 91% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

2. An increased risk of cardiovascular death has also been observed in people with heart disease or cancer.

3. For those who already suffer from cardiovascular disease, those who eat for no less than 8 but less than 10 hours per day have a 66% higher risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

4. Time-restricted eating did not reduce overall risk of death from any cause.

5. Eating duration of more than 16 hours per day was associated with a lower risk of cancer death in people with cancer.

“We were surprised to find that those who followed an 8-hour, time-restricted eating schedule were more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. “Although this type of diet has become popular because of its potential short-term benefits, our research clearly shows that, compared to a typical eating period of 12-16 hours per day, a shorter eating period was not associated with longer survival,” Zhong said.

Also Read: Sage Sunak’s 36-Hour Intermittent Fast: Should You Opt For It?

Effects of intermittent fasting: More research is needed

“Although the study identified an association between an 8-hour eating window and cardiovascular death, this does not mean that time-restricted eating causes cardiovascular death,” emphasized senior study author Victor Wenze Zhong. For this study, the American Heart Association surveyed nearly 20,000 adults in the United States from 2003 to 2018 using data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study had limitations, and the researchers noted that future studies could examine the biological mechanisms that underlie the relationship between a time-restricted eating schedule and adverse cardiovascular outcomes and whether these findings are similar for people living in other parts of the world, the authors noted.

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