Background: The "Mediterranean" diet and statin treatment have both independently been shown to improve survival and reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with ischemic heart disease (IHD), but no studies have evaluated the effect of this combination on endothelial function. We therefore sought to evaluate the effect of the combination dietary intervention and lipid-lowering treatment on brachial vasoreactivity.
Methods: A total of 131 consecutive patients with documented IHD and a serum cholesterol level > or =5 mmol/L (193 mg/dL) were randomized to receive Mediterranean dietary advice (n = 68) or no specific dietary advice (n = 63). Endothelial function was assessed at baseline and after 12 months with noninvasive ultrasound scanning vessel-wall tracking of brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilatation (FMD). All patients started statin treatment with Fluvastatin (40 mg once daily) at baseline.
Results: A total of 115 patients completed the study. At baseline, FMD was 4.30% +/- 4.89% in the control group versus 4.32% +/- 6.15% in the intervention group (P = not significant). After 12 months of follow-up, FMD was significantly higher in the intervention group (control group 5.72% +/- 4.87% vs intervention group 8.62% +/- 6.60%, P <.01). This was accompanied by a larger intake of fatty fish and a significant decrease in triglyceride levels. In multivariate analysis, randomization status was a significant predictor of FMD after adjustment for classic cardiovascular risk factors and vessel size (P =.02; beta = -2.66 [-4.91; -0.41]).
Conclusion: Dietary intervention with the Mediterranean diet and statin treatment improve FMD in the brachial artery in patients with IHD and hypercholesterolemia to a greater degree than statin treatment alone.