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High protein diet may cause heart failure

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The Atkins diet may raise the risk of fatal heart disease, according to a new study.Analysis of more than 2,440 men found that those with a high protein intake faced a 33 per cent increased risk of developing heart failure, where the organ is unable to pump sufficient blood and oxygen around the body.

The Atkins diet is the best known of a range of popular commercial regimes claiming to help people lose weight by embracing low-carbohydrate, high-protein eating.But the scientists behind the new study, published in the journal Circulation, said dieters are wrong to assume an abundance of protein is healthy.

In fact the results of the study showed that the only proteins not associated with heart failure were those derived from fish and eggs.Those who ate the most protein from animal sources had a 43 per cent higher risk of heart failure compare to those in the study who ate the least.

Meanwhile the increased risk for people consuming a high amount of dairy protein was 49 per cent and 17 per cent for those consuming a lot of plant protein.Heart failure occurs most commonly when the heart muscle has been damaged, such as after a heart attack, often as a result of heart disease due to unhealthy living.

The condition is incurable, meaning most medical effort is devoted to prevention.Professor Jyrki Virtanen, who worked on the study at the University of Eastern Finland, said: “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.”

Earlier studies have linked diets high in protein, especially from animal sources, to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and death.For the new research, scientists examined 2,441 men, age 42 to 60, at the study’s start and followed them for an average 22 years.

Overall, they found 334 cases of heart failure were diagnosed during the study and 70 percent of the protein consumed was from animal sources and 27.7 percent from plant sources.
Heli Virtanen, who also worked on the study, said: “As this is one of the first studies reporting on the association between dietary protein and heart failure risk, more research is needed before we know whether moderating protein intake may be beneficial in the prevention of heart failure.”


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