Mediterranean Diet Lowers Risk of Adverse CV Events

Patients who strongly adhere to a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits and vegetables have fewer major adverse cardiovascular (CV) events than those who loosely adhere to the diet, according to new research. In addition, a Western diet, which includes sweets and fried food, was not associated with CV events.

Although a Mediterranean diet has been linked to lower CV mortality, it was less understood how foods in a Western diet affect CV risk.

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To further explore this association, the researchers evaluated 15,482 patients with stable coronary heart disease participating in the Stabilization of Atherosclerotic Plaque by Initiation of Darapladib Therapy (STABILITY) trial in 39 countries.

Patients completed a food frequency questionnaire and were assigned a Mediterranean diet score (MDS) based on their intake of whole grains, fruits, legumes, fish, and alcohol, and a Western diet score (WDS) based on their intake of refined grains, sweets and desserts, sugared drinks, and deep-fried foods.

A higher score indicated that patients more strongly adhered to the diet.

After a median 3.7-year follow-up, the researchers found that major adverse CV events—such as CV death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or nonfatal stroke—occurred in 7.3% of patients with an MDS of 15 or more, 10.5% with an MDS of 13 or 14, and 10.8% with an MDS of 12 or less.

Although there was no association between WDS and adverse events, a one-point increase in MDS lowered patients’ CV risk.

“Greater consumption of healthy foods may be more important for secondary prevention of coronary artery disease than avoidance of less healthy foods typical of Western diets,” the researchers concluded.

—Amanda Balbi


Stewart RAH, Wallentin L, Benatar J, et al. Dietary patterns and the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in a global study of high-risk patients with stable coronary heart disease [published online April 24, 2016]. Eur Heart J. doi: