Nutrition impacts the prevalence of peripheral arterial disease in the United States

J Vasc Surg. 2008 Oct;48(4):897-904. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2008.05.014. Epub 2008 Jun 30.


Objective: Traditional recommendations for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) risk factor reduction include smoking cessation, low-fat/low-salt diet, exercise, and optimal medical management of chronic disease. Little attention has been paid to the role of dietary supplementation of specific nutrients in the prevention of PAD.

Methods: This cross-sectional study used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to determine specific nutrients that are associated with prevalent PAD in the United States (US) population. NHANES data include nationwide sampling of the US population, using physical examination, questionnaire, and laboratory testing. PAD status was defined by an ankle-brachial index (ABI) of <0.9. Nutritional information was collected by 24-hour dietary recall using the US Department of Agriculture dietary collection instrument. Data were linked to a database of foods and their nutrient composition. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate associations between specific nutrient intake and the presence of PAD. Multivariate models adjusted for the effects of age, gender, hypertension, coronary vascular disease, diabetes, and smoking.

Results: NHANES data for 1999 to 2004 included 7203 lower extremity examinations, of which 422 individuals had prevalent PAD (5.9%). Examinees with PAD had significantly higher rates of hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and smoking than those without PAD. Univariate analysis revealed that consumption of all nutrients considered were associated with lower odds of PAD, including antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E), folate, other B vitamins (B(6), B(12)), fiber, and polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids. After adjustment for traditional risk factors, nutrients associated with reduced prevalence of PAD were vitamin A (odds ratio [OR], 0.79; P = .036), vitamin C (OR, 0.84; P < .001), vitamin E (OR, 0.78; P = .011), vitamin B(6) (OR, 0.71; P = .023), fiber (OR, 0.65; P < .001), folate (OR, 0.67; P = .006), and omega-3 (alpha-linolenic) fatty acid (OR, 0.79; P = .028).

Conclusions: Improved nutrition is associated with a reduced prevalence of PAD in the US population. Higher consumption of specific nutrients, including antioxidants (vitamin A, C, and E), vitamin B(6), fiber, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids have a significant protective effect, irrespective of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. These findings suggest specific dietary supplementation may afford additional protection, above traditional risk factor modification, for the prevention of PAD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / therapy*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology