Mediterranean Diet Score, Dietary Patterns, and Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death in the REGARDS Study

J Am Heart Assoc. 2021 Jul 6;10(13):e019158. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.120.019158. Epub 2021 Jun 30.


Background Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a common cause of death in the United States. Few previous studies have investigated the associations of diet scores and dietary patterns with risk of SCD. We investigated the associations of the Mediterranean diet score and various dietary patterns with risk of SCD in participants in the REGARDS (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) study cohort. Methods and Results Diet was assessed with a food frequency questionnaire administered at baseline in REGARDS. The Mediterranean diet score was derived based on the consumption of specific food groups considered beneficial or detrimental components of that diet. Dietary patterns were derived previously using factor analysis, and adherence to each pattern was scored. SCD events were ascertained through regular contacts. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to examine the risk of SCD events associated with the Mediterranean diet score and adherence to each of the 5 dietary patterns overall and stratifying on history of coronary heart disease at baseline. The analytic sample included 21 069 participants with a mean 9.8±3.8 years of follow-up. The Mediterranean diet score showed a trend toward an inverse association with risk of SCD after multivariable adjustment (hazard ratio [HR] comparing highest with lowest group, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.55-1.01; Ptrend=0.07). There was a trend toward a positive association of the Southern dietary pattern with risk of SCD (HR comparing highest with lowest quartile of adherence, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.02-2.10; Ptrend=0.06). Conclusions In REGARDS participants, we identified trends toward an inverse association of the Mediterranean diet score and a positive association of adherence to the Southern dietary pattern with risk of SCD.

Keywords: dietary patterns; epidemiology; follow‐up studies; nutrition; sudden cardiac death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology*
  • Diet, Mediterranean / statistics & numerical data*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology