Rx Nutrition Resource Center

Rx Nutrition Resource Center

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
April 14, 2021
1 min read

Vegetarian diet tied to reduced risk for ischemic heart disease mortality

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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A vegetarian diet was associated with reduced risk for ischemic heart disease mortality compared with a nonvegetarian diet but had no effect on all-cause and cerebrovascular mortality, researchers reported.

For a meta-analysis, the researchers analyzed eight observational studies of 131,869 people to determine the association between vegetarian vs. nonvegetarian diet on ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease or all-cause mortality.

Vegetables 2019 Adobe
Source: Adobe Stock

During a mean follow-up of 11 years, researchers observed that a vegetarian diet compared with a nonvegetarian diet was associated with similar risk for all-cause mortality (RR = 0.84, 95% CI, 0.65-1.07; I2 = 97%) and cerebrovascular mortality (RR = 0.84, 95% CI, 0.63-1.14; I2 = 90%), but was associated with reduced risk for ischemic heart disease mortality (RR = 0.7, 95% CI, 0.55-0.89; I2 = 82%).

Researchers observed that after excluding one outlier study, the risk for mortality due to cerebrovascular disease remained comparable between vegetarian and nonvegetarian diets (RR = 0.93; 95% CI, 0.74-1.18; I2 = 35%).

The results of the study should be interpreted with caution considering the low certainty of evidence, the researchers wrote.

Ankur Kalra

“Even though these are observational data, we have been very meticulous in our analysis and the results are very robust in terms of how the analysis was conducted. The signal that we found with regard to benefit with CV mortality is a true signal,” Ankur Kalra, MD, medical director of clinical research for regional cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic, told Healio.

“Despite recent studies supporting no restriction on animal protein intake gaining wide media attention and public traction, consideration for vegetarianism amongst those with risk factors for coronary artery disease should be contemplated,” the researchers wrote.

Kalra said in an interview that there has been growing interest in vegetarianism in Western culture and that various health societies, including the American Heart Association, have recommended, based mostly on opinion, a vegetarian diet in their guidelines for preventing CVD.

“If we could include data from our study to support that recommendation, it would be an invaluable addition to the literature,” Kalra said.

In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, controlling BP and diabetes, Kalra said adding a vegetarian component to a diet is recommended to patients with established CVD.

For more information:

Ankur Kalra, MD, can be reached at kalraa@ccf.org; Twitter: @ankurkalramd.