A new study from Japan suggests that gobbling down just one high-fat meal can interfere with blood flow to the heart in healthy young men. In the study, 15 healthy men in their 20s or early 30s consumed a shake containing 1,200 calories and 100 grams of fat--roughly the equivalent of eating a fast-food meal plus dessert. All of the men underwent a heart test and had blood samples taken before and after consuming the liquid meal.
The researchers found that 5 hours after the high-fat meal, the ability of heart arteries to expand and increase blood flow to the muscle (known as coronary flow reserve) dropped by 18%. In addition, five men underwent the same tests after consuming a low-fat 1,200-calorie meal that contained only 10 grams of fat. In that case, the men did not have a drop in coronary blood flow reserve after consuming the meal.
The findings suggest that the tiny blood vessels that provide oxygen-rich blood to heart muscle can be impaired by a high-fat meal. Although the study did not include people with heart disease, the results could explain why those with heart disease-related chest pain can have increased pain after a high-fat meal. The pain of angina is thought to be due to a reduction in blood flow to the heart.
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