Sonia Anand

New insights from a landmark PHRI trial cohort have shown that a plant-based diet – minimizing red meat and processed foods – is associated with health benefits for patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) and/or peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The study of almost 27,000 patients in 33 countries in North and South Americas, Eastern and Western Europe, Australia and Asia who were enrolled in the COMPASS trial,  “indicates that a high-quality diet emphasizing whole foods reduces the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke,” says one of the study’s authors, PHRI Senior Scientist Sonia Anand, who is a PAD specialist physician.

“This is the largest study of diet done in patients with PAD,” adds Anand, who is a co-PI on COMPASS, a landmark randomized controlled trial at PHRI.

Co-author Darryl Wan, of McMaster University and University of British Columbia, says “even after adjusting for factors that might affect the association, patients with the worst quality diet had a 27% higher likelihood of vascular complications compared to those with the best quality diet. This excess in risk seems to be mainly due to a higher rate of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths regardless of whether patients had heart disease or blockages in the arteries outside of the heart.”

The researchers analyzed the association between diet quality and adverse cardiovascular and limb events – heart attacks, strokes, and leg amputations – after adjusting for age, sex, country, education level, treatments and medications, body mass index, smoking and other conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart failure.

The researchers write in “Dietary intake and cardiovascular outcomes in patients with chronic vascular disease – insights from the COMPASS trial cohort” published recently in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology:

“Dietary recommendations have challenges as many foods are not applicable across ethnic groups, countries of origin, and availability of resources…
However, our study indicates that the emphasis should be shifted to improving overall dietary quality rather than specific food types by suggesting greater consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, higher fibre foods, choosing white over red meat, and consumption of minimally processed foods.
This may improve the applicability to a larger general population with a variety of cultural backgrounds and simplify advice to patients.”

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