Diet and cardiovascular health in asymptomatic normo- and mildly-to-moderately hypercholesterolemic participants – baseline data from the BLOOD FLOW intervention study
1 Department of Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
2 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
3 Heart and Lung Center, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
4 Department of Medicine, Divisions of Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Nutrition & Metabolism 2013, 10:62 doi:10.1186/1743-7075-10-62Published: 7 October 2013
For decades in Finland, intensive population strategies and preventive activities have been used to lower the risk of atherosclerotic coronary heart disease (CHD). Lifestyle changes, with the emphasis on diet, play an important role in preventive strategies. The aim of this study was to evaluate arterial stiffness and endothelial function in asymptomatic free-living adults and to relate the results to CHD risk factors and lifestyle habits with the emphasis on diet.
Ninety-four asymptomatic participants were recruited by advertisements in four large companies and two research institutes employing mainly office workers. Arterial stiffness was assessed as the cardio-ankle vascular index in large arteries, and endothelial function as the reactive hyperemia index with peripheral arterial tonometry. The systematic Cardiovascular Risk Estimation (SCORE) was calculated.
The data was collected in the spring of 2011. Anthropometric, dietary, and lipid data was available from 92 participants, blood pressure from 85 and vascular measurements from 86–88 subjects (38% males; 62% females; mean age of all 51). The majority (72%) had an elevated low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentration and over half were overweight or obese. SCORE stated that 49% of the participants had a moderate risk of cardiovascular disease. When compared to general recommendations, half of the participants had too high intake of total fat and in 66% the consumption of saturated fat was too high. In contrast, the intake of carbohydrates was too low in 90% of the participants and for fiber 73% were below recommendations. There was evidence of borderline or increased arterial stiffness in 72% of the participants and endothelial function was impaired in 8%. Arterial stiffness was associated with LDL cholesterol concentration (p = 0.024), dietary cholesterol intake (p = 0.029), and SCORE (p < 0.001).
In a cross-sectional study of asymptomatic middle-aged participants, the half had a moderate risk for cardiovascular diseases manifested as increased arterial stiffness, elevated LDL cholesterol concentration, and poor dietary habits. The new observation that arterial stiffness was associated with dietary cholesterol intake and SCORE emphasizes the urgency of adequate lifestyle and dietary interventions to prevent future coronary events even in asymptomatic participants.
Clinical Trials Register # NCT01315964