Dietary fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease – a review
Sommaire de l'article
In developed countries atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is the reason for about 50% of all deaths. With growing prosperity coronary heart disease (CHD) is becoming the major cause of premature death. Most complications of atherosclerosis occur unexpectedly and more than 50% of the patients developing a myocardial infarction do not survive more than one year. Because of the severe morbidity and high mortality primary prevention is likely to be the only solution.Epidemiological studies show a strong, positive relationship between plasma cholesterol concentrations and the incidence of CHD. People who immigrate from low-risk to high-risk areas usually acquire similar plasma cholesterol levels as the native population and a similar CHD risk. This demonstrates that environmental rather than genetic factors lead to the differences in cardiovascular risk and supports the notion that nutrition and lifestyle play a major role.The association between dietary intake of fat and cholesterol and the extent of atherosclerosis and CHD has been recognized in previous studies. The amount of saturated fat in the diet correlates stronger with the incidence of CHD than with total fat intake. The consumption of unsaturated fatty acids, however, appears to be beneficial, since it is inversely correlated with the plasma cholesterol concentration and risk of myocardial infarction. Lately additional nutritional factors like trans fatty acids with a negative influence on risk as well as positive factors like linolenic acid have attracted much attention.In conclusion, as a challenge to public health, preventive medicine needs to focus on changes in dietary habits with priority, particularly fat modification. A nutrition low in total fat primarily avoiding saturated and trans fatty acids, but rich in fruit and vegetables should be recommended.