More bad news for processed meat. According to a large study from Sweden, men who reported a heavy intake of sausages and cold cuts are more likely to wind up in the hospital for heart failure. Eating large amounts of red meat has been linked to a greater risk of heart disease and stroke, but there is less research on heart failure.
Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure, occurs when the heart muscle weakens and cannot pump enough blood fast enough to meet the needs of the body. As a result, fluid accumulates in the lungs, hands, ankles, or other parts of the body.
Heart failure is considered to be at the end of the heart disease continuum, often preceded by its major risk factors including high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, and obesity.
People with heart failure often experience shortness of breath and general tiredness. Heart failure is usually progressive and long term, but can be managed with medications, exercise and a reduced-sodium diet.
Processed meat is high in sodium and may include also nitrites and phosphate-containing additives. As well, smoked processed meat products and grilled meat are sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These chemicals have been shown to have some adverse health effects.
For the study, the researchers used data from roughly 37,000 Swedish men who had no known heart problems when they were first assessed in 1997, between age 45 and 79. That year, they filled out a questionnaire about their diet.
The men noted how often they ate unprocessed meats, including pork, beef and minced meat and how often they ate processed meats like sausages, cold cuts, blood pudding or pate.
Over the next 12 years, almost 3,000 of the men experienced heart failure and 266 died from the condition.
Men who ate at least 75 grams (2.5 ounces) per day of processed red meat had a 28 percent greater risk of heart failure and were more than twice as likely to die from heart failure compared to men who ate less than 25 grams (about 1 ounce) per day.
The findings showed that even at a low level of consumption the risk of heart failure started to increase.
A single serving of deli ham is usually two ounces, or 57 grams. Each 50-gram increase in daily processed meat intake was associated with an eight percent higher risk of heart failure and a 38 percent higher risk of death from heart failure.
The findings should be applicable to women as well, the researchers said.
Source: Circulation: Heart Failure, online June 12, 2014.
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