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'Empty-Calorie' Diet Tied to Preclinical Heart Disease

Regimens heavy on fats, sweets boost the risk, researchers find

TUESDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- A person's eating habits are independently associated with risk of preclinical cardiovascular disease, U.S researchers report..

Researchers looked at the dietary habits of almost 1,300 women (who were free of cardiovascular disease at the start of the study) and checked their maximum carotid intima media thickness (cIMT), a measure of the carotid artery that is a good predictor of preclinical cardiovascular disease.

The study found that women with an "empty-calorie dietary pattern" had a significantly elevated cIMT (1.46mm) compared with women with heart healthy (1.18mm), light-eating (1.22mm), and high-fat (1.17mm) dietary patterns.

The relationship remained significant after the researchers controlled for other risk factors such as smoking, cholesterol, body mass index, and systolic blood pressure (the top number in a reading).

An empty-calorie dietary pattern includes high consumption of total and saturated fat, higher intake of sugars in the form of desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages, low intake of fruits and vegetables, and lower overall levels of protective micronutrients.

These findings about dietary patterns should be used for targeted prevention of cardiovascular disease, the researchers said.

The study was expected to be presented Nov. 6 at the American Heart Association annual meeting, in Orlando, Fla.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about heart and vascular diseases.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Nov. 6, 2007, presentation , American Heart Association annual meeting, Orlando, Fla.

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