Fruit Diet Can Help Prevent Vascular Disease

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An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a scary condition that can occur in anyone, but most likely men over the age of 60 who have one or more risk factors. The good news: Eating a healthful diet high in antioxidant-rich fruits may help protect the body against vascular diseases such as AAA.

Researchers with the Karolinska Institute in Sweden studied data from more than 80,000 men and women over the course of 13 years. Participants reported their fruit and vegetable consumption as part of a 96-item food frequency questionnaire.

Those consuming at least two servings of fruit per day had a 25% lower risk of developing AAA. Participants consuming the most fruit had a 43% lower risk of having such an aneurysm rupture.

"A diet high in fruits may help to prevent many vascular diseases, and this study provides evidence that a lower risk of AAA will be among the benefits," wrote Otto Stackelberg MD.

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"Growing evidence indicates that inflammation and oxidative stress may play an important role in AAA pathophysiology, and the redox balance facilitated by antioxidants has made them subject to speculation of having protective effects against AAA development," the authors wrote. Thus, fruits and vegetables -- which contain high levels of antioxidants -- may be protective.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when the aorta (the large blood vessel that supplies blood to the abdomen) becomes abnormally large or balloons outward. The larger the aneurysm becomes, the more likely it is to rupture. Symptoms of rupture include pain in the abdomen or back that is sudden, severe or persistent. The pain may spread to the groin, buttocks, or legs. A patient may also experience clammy skin, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, or rapid heart rate.

The exact cause of an AAA is unknown, but risk factors include genetic factors, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking. It occurs most often in older males.

To reduce the risk of developing aneurysms:
• Eat a heart-healthy diet, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
• Exercise.
• Stop Smoking
• Reduce Stress
• Take all medications as directed.

Journal Reference: Stackelberg O, et al "Fruit and vegetable consumption with risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm" Circulation 2013; 128: 795-802.

Additional Resource: MedlinePlus (A service of the US National Library of Medicine)

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