So you've survived a near-fatal heart attack and you give up all your vices: smoking, boozing, rich desserts and fast food, right?
Wrong. At least as far as fast food goes. A new study published in the American Journal of Cardiology reports that after six months, more than half of heart attack patients who frequently ate fast food before their attack were back in the drive-through line, ordering double cheeseburgers, fries and Big Macs.
One of the cardiologists who co-authored the study is Dr. John A. Spertus, a professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he serves as clinical director of outcomes research at the St. Luke's Mid-America Heart Institute.
Spertus told Reuters Health that he and his colleagues studied nearly 2,500 heart-attack patients all over the country who filled out surveys while they were still in the hospital. One in every three patients reported eating fast food frequently -- once a week or more -- in the month prior to their heart attack.
"When the researchers checked back six months later, 503 were still eating fast food every week," writer Kerry Grens reports. "These patients -- the die-hard fast-food eaters -- were more likely to be white, male, employed, and without a college degree."
It was those predictors that patients were often younger white males who were employed that surprised me," Spertus told Fat City. "All of the patients in the survey were advised, when released from the hospital, what a healthy diet was. But many patients didn't make the association that this meant cutting out fast food."
"Some addictions," says Spertus, "are harder to break than others."
Spertus has been known to indulge in fast food himself from time to time, he admits. "But that's not really the kind of food that interests me if I'm going to indulge. I'd rather have a very rich chocolate ice cream. But if I'm on a road trip, I'll eat a fast-food burger. Not very frequently, though."