New results from the PREDIMED study, the ongoing intervention study carried out by Spanish researchers, has found evidence that a Mediterranean diet may improve certain measurements that are used to diagnose and provide a prognosis for heart failure.

Heart failure is a chronic condition that is diagnosed when the heart muscle does not function well, resulting in less pumping of oxygen-rich blood to the body. It can have several causes. Treatment is based on controlling it with lifestyle changes and medications, however heart failure is a condition that becomes worse as time goes by.

For this study the researchers wanted to examine if a Mediterranean diet can have a positive effect on heart failure biomarkers as there was little data on the diet and these particular indicators.

The study, published in the European Journal of Heart Failure, included 930 participants who were at high cardiovascular risk. They were assigned to either a low fat diet, as the control diet, or to one of the Mediterranean diet variations supplemented with either olive oil or nuts.

The results after one year showed several changes in heart failure biomarkers. Participants following the Mediterranean diets showed a decrease in N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide, which is a type of amino acid that is found in high levels in individuals with heart failure and is usually associated with a worse prognosis. In addition, the Mediterranean diet groups also had lower levels of oxidized LDL — particularly in the olive oil group.

Heart failure affects over 23 million people worldwide and is characterized by a decreased quality of life. The researchers noted that their results show that the Mediterranean diet could modify these biomarkers for a more protective effect.

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