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Hypertension. 2008 Sep;52(3):549-55. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.108.114264. Epub 2008 Jul 28.

Linoleate-rich high-fat diet decreases mortality in hypertensive heart failure rats compared with lard and low-fat diets.

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  • 1Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA.


Recent studies indicate that high-fat diets may attenuate cardiac hypertrophy and contractile dysfunction in chronic hypertension. However, it is unclear whether consuming a high-fat diet improves prognosis in aged individuals with advanced hypertensive heart disease or the extent to which differences in its fatty acid composition modulate its effects in this setting. In this study, aged spontaneously hypertensive heart failure rats were administered a standard high-carbohydrate diet or high-fat diet (42% of kilocalories) supplemented with high-linoleate safflower oil or lard until death to determine their effects on disease progression and mortality. Both high-fat diets attenuated cardiac hypertrophy, left ventricular chamber dilation, and systolic dysfunction observed in rats consuming the high-carbohydrate diet. However, the lard diet significantly hastened heart failure mortality compared with the high-carbohydrate diet, whereas the linoleate diet significantly delayed mortality. Both high-fat diets elicited changes in the myocardial fatty acid profile, but neither had any effect on thromboxane excretion or blood pressure. The prosurvival effect of the linoleate diet was associated with a greater myocardial content and linoleate-enrichment of cardiolipin, an essential mitochondrial phospholipid known to be deficient in the failing heart. This study demonstrates that, despite having favorable effects on cardiac morphology and function in hypertension, a high-fat diet may accelerate or attenuate mortality in advanced hypertensive heart disease depending on its fatty acid composition. The precise mechanisms responsible for the divergent effects of the lard and linoleate-enriched diets merit further investigation but may involve diet-induced changes in the content and/or composition of cardiolipin in the heart.

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