Nutrition and cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in western societies, and strongly increasing in low- and middle-income countries. The burden of cardiovascular diseases is largely preventable by a healthy diet and lifestyle. The Interheart study (Yusuf et al, N Engl J Med 2014) showed that nine modifiable risk factors may account for over 90% of the risk of myocardial infarction, with unhealthy diet explaining over 50%.

Cardiovascular disease comprises coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure and other disorders that affect the heart and blood vessels. It is closely related to other chronic diseases, such as renal disease, diabetes, and dementia. Underlying pathophysiological processes are atherosclerosis, thrombosis, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. Modifiable biological risk factors include elevated blood pressure, atherogenic blood lipid profile and impaired glucose tolerance.

At the Division of Human Nutrition, the effect of nutrient and food intake on classical and emerging risk factors and underlying pathophysiological processes for cardiovascular disease are studied in randomized controlled trials. Also, prospective cohort studies and meta-analyses are performed to quantify the associations between diet and cardiovascular disease, including renal impairment. We study a wide range of dietary exposures, for example salt and other minerals, polyphenols, animal and vegetable protein, omega-3 and other polyunsaturated fatty acids, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and dietary patterns. Studies are conducted in high-risk individuals (e.g. KaNa trial), cardiovascular patients (e.g. Alpha Omega Trial) and general populations (e.g. Zutphen Study, Lifelines).

We put efforts in translating our research findings to society and public health policy through guideline committees and health authoritative bodies.

Current key projects