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High fat diet may reduce hypertension-induced heart changes

12 December 2006
Hypertension 2006; 48: 1116–1123

An increased dietary intake of lipids appears to reduce cardiac growth, left ventricular remodeling, contractile dysfunction, and alterations in gene expression in response to hypertension, US study findings indicate.

As the effects of a high-fat diet on the development of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and accompanying remodeling in response to hypertension are not clear, William Stanley, from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, USA, and colleagues compared the effects of a low- and high-fat diet on LVH, remodeling, contractile dysfunction, and induction of molecular markers of hypertrophy.

For the study, the team fed Dahl salt-sensitive rats either a diet in which 10% of the total energy came from fat or one in which 60% of the total energy came from fat, with either low- or high-salt supplementation.

After 12 weeks, the rat's hearts were examined for mRNA markers of ventricular remodeling and mitochondrial enzyme activity, specifically that of citrate synthase and medium chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase (MCAD).

The high-salt version of each diet achieved similar levels of hypertension, at an average systolic pressure of approximately 190 mmHg, the researchers report in the journal Hypertension.
Left ventricular mass, myocytes cross-sectional area, and end-diastolic volume were increased in hypertensive rats fed the low-fat diet, while the ejection fraction was decreased. In contrast, none of these effects were seen in animals fed the high-fat diet.

Hypertensive rats fed the low-fat diet were also found to have increased atrial natriuretic factor mRNA, myosin heavy chain isoform switching, from alpha to beta, and decreased citrate synthase and MCAD activity. All of these effects were reduced in high-fat diet rats.

"On the surface, our results suggest that the optimal diet in hypertension should be low in carbohydrate and high in fat; however, there are no data from humans to support extending this observation into the clinic," the team says.

"In addition, the high sugar content in the standard low-fat rat chow makes it impossible to determine whether the beneficial effect of the high-fat chow was because of removal of simple sugar or the addition of lipid, suggesting the possibility that a low-sugar/ high complex carbohydrate/low-fat diet could be just as effective at preventing LVH and contractile dysfunction in hypertension."

l Access the Abstract l

© Copyright Current Medicine Group Ltd, 2006