A study conducted in about 20,000 people has seen that higher consumption of red and processed meat is associated with poorer heart function. Presented at the ESC Preventive Cardiology Congress 2021, the research reinforces the links between red meat and heart disease.
There are many studies that have shown the relationship between a higher consumption of red meat and a high risk of heart attacks or dying from heart disease, says the study author. Zahra raisi-estabragh, from Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom, but now, “for the first time, we have examined the association between meat consumption and heart health through imaging techniques».
According to the researcher, this can “help us to understand the mechanisms prior to the connections already observed with cardiovascular diseases.”
A total of 19,408 Biobank participants from the UK participated in the study. The researchers examined the links between self-reported red and processed meat intake with the anatomy and function of the heart.
The study contemplated three types of cardiac measurements. First, cardiac function assessed by cardiovascular magnetic resonance techniques used in clinical practice, such as the volume of the ventricles and measures of the pumping function of the ventricles.
In addition, the technique radiómica CMR which is used in research to extract detailed information from images of the heart, such as shape and texture (indicating the health of the heart muscle). By last, elasticity blood vessels (elastic arteries are healthier).
The data obtained were adjusted according to other factors that could influence: age, sex, education, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, arterial hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and the body mass index (BMI) as a measure of obesity.
The results showed that higher intakes of red and processed meat were associated with poorer outcomes on all measures studied in heart health imaging tests.
Specifically, people who ate the most meat had smaller ventricles, poorer heart function, and stiffer arteries – all indicators of poorer cardiovascular health.
The researchers also checked the relationships between heart imaging measures and oily fish intake, which has been linked to better heart health. Thus they discovered that as the consumption of oily fish increased, the heart function improved and the arteries stretched more.
Dr. Raisi-Estabragh said:
‘The findings support previous observations linking red and processed meat consumption to heart disease and provide insight into the links with vascular and cardiac structure and functionSays Raisi-Estabragh.
While it is true that high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity can explain this relationship, it only partially does so.
“It has been suggested that these factors could be the reason for the observed relationship between meat and heart disease – explains Raisi-Estabragh – For example, it is possible that a greater red meat intake causes an increase in blood cholesterol and this, in turn, promotes heart disease. Our study suggests that these four factors play a role in the links between meat intake and heart health, but they are not the only ones».
Although she does not explain through what mechanisms, the researcher points out that there is already evidence showing that “red meat alters the gut microbiome, which generates an increase in certain metabolites in the blood, which in turn have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.