DNC News

High nut intake is correlated with reduced risk of sudden cardiac death

Reuters Health Information 2002. 2002 Reuters Ltd

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jun 24 - The inverse association between dietary nut intake and total coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality is largely due to a reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death, results of a study released on Sunday indicate.

Dr. Christine M. Albert, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, and multicenter colleagues used food frequency questionnaires to examine associations between nut consumption and risk of sudden cardiac death in the 21,454 male participants in the US Physician's Health Study.

During an average follow-up of 17 years, there were 201 sudden cardiac deaths and 566 total CHD deaths. In adjusted analyses, men who ate nuts two or more times per week had a 47% lower risk of sudden cardiac death and a 30% lower risk of total CHD death compared with men who never or only rarely ate nuts. "The effect appeared linear with a significant trend across the range of nut intake," Dr. Albert and colleagues note in the June 24th issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Nut consumption was not associated with a significant reduction in nonsudden CHD deaths or nonfatal myocardial infarction. "This pattern of benefit on CHD end points suggests that at least part of the effect of nut consumption on sudden cardiac death may be due to a reduction in fatal ventricular arrhythmias," the team notes. Nuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an n-3 fatty acid, as well as unsaturated fats, magnesium, and vitamin E, all nutrients with potential antiarrhythmic effects.

Additional studies into the apparent protective effect of nuts on the heart could lead to the development of novel preventive therapies, Dr. Albert's team concludes.
Arch Intern Med 2002;162:1382-1387.

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