An Apple a Day May Help Keep an Aneurysm Away

Abdominal aortic aneurysm may be avoided by eating more fruit

(RxWiki News) Want to maintain healthy blood flow? Eat fruit. Consuming more fruit may help prevent a number of vascular diseases, including a condition that strikes the body’s main blood vessel.

The abdominal aorta supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs. An aneurysm, or enlargement, in this lower part of the aorta can lead to a rupture, which can cause life-threatening bleeding.

A recent study out of Sweden has revealed that eating more than two servings of fruit daily may lower the risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm, a condition that mostly affects older men and especially those who smoke.

"Eat more fruit to improve vascular health."

For this study, Otto Stackelberg, MD, a PhD student at the Institute of Environmental Medicine’s Nutritional Epidemiology Unit at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and collaborators followed more than 80,000 people over the course of 13 years.

Ranging in age from 46 to 84, the participants were separated into four equal-size groups according to how much fruit and vegetables they reported eating.

Those consuming the least amount of fruit had less than one full serving a day, while those eating the most had more than two servings daily, not counting juice.

Subjects were eating apples and pears the most, followed by bananas, oranges and other citrus fruits.

From hospital and death records, the investigators discovered that 1,086 people had abdominal aortic aneurysms. Of those, 222 had aneurysms that ruptured. More than 80 percent of these aneurysms and ruptures were in men.

Compared to those consuming the least amount of fruit, those eating the most had a 25 percent lower risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm and 43 percent lower risk of a ruptured aneurysm.

Those who said they ate no fruit had a 31 percent greater risk of a non-ruptured aneurysm and a 39 percent greater risk of a ruptured aneurysm compared to those who ate the most fruit.

Scientists indicated that high levels of antioxidants in fruits might protect against the condition by preventing oxidative stress that can promote inflammation.

This study found no link between eating vegetables and preventing abdominal aortic aneurysm. Because vegetables lack some antioxidants that fruits have, they may not offer the same protective properties, according to Dr. Stackleberg.

“Vegetables remain important for health,” he said in a press release. “Other studies have found that eating more fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and several cancers.”

The American Heart Association recommends that the average adult should eat four to five servings each of fruits and vegetables daily, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits provides folate, magnesium, potassium and dietary fiber, as well as vitamins A, C and K.

"The risk of so many different diseases and illnesses can be reduced by three goals that everyone can try to work towards daily: eat more fruits and vegetables, add more physical activity to your day, and most importantly, quitting smoking. As this study shows, even something as simple as eating one or two pieces of fruit a day had a real-life, significant impact on reducing the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm," Dr. James Martin, Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery at St. John Macomb Hospital, told dailyRx News.

"Throwing a banana and some berries in the blender in the morning for a breakfast smoothie could get someone's day off to an easy healthy start," said Dr. Martin.

Dr. Stackleberg added that smoking is a major risk factor when it comes to abdominal aortic aneurysm.

“Never start smoking; and if you already do smoke, quit today,” he advised in a statement. “It’s never too late.”

This study was published on August 19 in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. The Swedish Research Council and Karolinska Institutet funded the study.

Review Date: 
August 20, 2013