Long-Term Adverse Cardiac Outcomes for Low-Carb Diets

Use of low carbohydrate-high protein diets linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease

WEDNESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Women who follow low carbohydrate-high protein diets have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study published online June 26 in BMJ.

Pagona Lagiou, M.D., Dr.Med.Sci., from the University of Athens Medical School in Greece, and colleagues examined the long-term consequences of low-carbohydrate diets in a prospective cohort study involving 43,396 Swedish women, aged 30 to 49 years at baseline. Participants completed an extensive dietary questionnaire.

During an average of 15.7 years of follow-up, the researchers found that a one-tenth decrease in carbohydrate intake or increase in protein intake or a 2-unit increase in the low carbohydrate-high protein score correlated with a significant increase in the incidence of overall cardiovascular disease (1,270 participants; incidence rate ratio estimates, 1.04, 1.04, and 1.05, respectively). There was no heterogeneity in the association for the cardiovascular outcomes examined (ischemic heart disease, ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and peripheral arterial disease).

"The results of our study are directly relevant to a group that often resorts to weight control regimens that encourage restriction of carbohydrate with unavoidable increases in protein intake," the authors write. "[Our results] draw attention to the potential for considerable adverse effects on cardiovascular health of these diets when they are used on a regular basis, without consideration of the nature of carbohydrates (complex versus refined) or the source of proteins (plant versus animal)."

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