Protein intake may increase HF risk in men

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Men who were middle aged and followed a diet with a higher protein intake had a trend toward increased risk for HF, according to a study published in Circulation: Heart Failure.

“As many people seem to take the health benefits of high-protein diets for granted, it is important to make clear the possible risks and benefits of these diets,” Jyrki Virtanen, PhD, adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, said in a press release. “Earlier studies had linked diets high in protein — especially from animal sources — with increased risks of type 2 diabetes and even death.”

Heli E.K. Virtanen, MSc, PhD student and early career researcher at the University of Eastern Finland, and colleagues analyzed data from 2,441 men without HF at baseline from the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, which investigated risk factors for atherosclerosis, CVD and related outcomes. Men were aged 42 to 60 years at baseline.

Baseline examinations were completed from 1984 to 1989 and included fasting venous blood samples and collecting information such as annual income, education years, dietary supplement use, family history of CHD and marital status. Re-examinations were performed 4, 11 and 20 years after the initial examination.

Men completed a record of baseline food consumption for 4 days, one of which was a weekend day. This information was used to calculate protein intake from various sources.

Information on cases of HF were collected between study entry and Dec. 31, 2014, through national registers.

During a mean follow-up of 22.2 years, 334 cases of HF occurred. A higher intake of total protein was associated with a trend toward increased risk for HF (adjusted HR = 1.33; 95% CI, 0.95-1.85).

The increased risk for HF was consistent between specific sources and types of protein, although some were not statistically significant. When the highest and lowest quartiles were compared, the HR was 1.43 (95% CI, 1-2.03) for total animal protein and 1.17 (95% CI, 0.72-1.91) for total plant protein.

“Differences in preparation methods of meat and difficulties in categorizing meat as unprocessed or processed may, however, affect the results,” Virtanen and colleagues wrote. “There is no apparent explanation for why a high consumption of major plant sources was associated with a higher HF risk among those without disease history. Because of the low number of events in this group, the association might be a chance finding.” – by Darlene Dobkowski

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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