Advancing beyond the “heart-healthy diet” for peripheral arterial disease

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Abstract

Objective:

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a burdensome cardiovascular condition that results from chronic inflammatory insults to the arterial vasculature. Key risk factors include age, gender, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, hyperhomocysteinemia, smoking, lack of physical fitness, and poor diet, the latter three being modifiable in the development and progression of PAD. A growing body of evidence indicates that imbalanced nutrient intake may contribute to the development and progression of PAD. The purpose of this review is to summarize current knowledge about nutritional patterns among patients with PAD and to ascertain whether certain health-promoting foods and nutrients could benefit patients with this condition.

Methods:

We conducted a comprehensive literature review to examine primary source evidence for or against the nutrients that are commonly associated with PAD and their potential utility as therapies.

Results:

We summarized nine categories of nutrients, as well as four diets endorsed by the American Heart Association that may be prescribed to patients with or at risk for PAD. The nutrients reviewed included omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), folate and B-series vitamins, and antioxidants. The diet plans described include the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, Mediterranean diet, low-fat diet, low carbohydrate diet, Dr Dean Ornish's Spectrum Diet and Dr Andrew Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet.

Conclusions:

PAD is a chronic inflammatory condition that is associated with longstanding poor nutrition habits. We advocate for an intensified use of diet in PAD therapy, and we specifically recommend following eating patterns that are rich in nutrients with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

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