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Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2004 Dec;11(6):497-502.

Attenuation of inflammation with short-term dietary intervention is associated with a reduction of arterial stiffness in subjects with hypercholesterolaemia.

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Unit of Internal Medicine, Angiology and Arteriosclerosis Diseases, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.



Increased arterial stiffness has been found in patients with chronic high-grade inflammatory diseases. Whether mitigation of low-grade systemic inflammation, through a low-cholesterol/low-saturated fat diet, may have a role in improving arterial stiffness is still untested.


We investigated whether variations in blood lipids and plasma C-reactive protein induced by low-cholesterol/low-saturated fat diet are associated with variations in large-artery stiffness in hypercholesterolaemia.


Thirty-five patients with primary hypercholesterolaemia and 15 normal control subjects were recruited for the study. Hypercholesterolaemic patients followed an 8-week low-cholesterol/low-saturated fat diet (30% total fat, 5% saturated fat, cholesterol <200 mg/daily). Anthropometric characteristics, blood lipids, plasma C-reactive protein and arterial stiffness were measured at baseline and after the diet.


Arterial stiffness and C-reactive protein levels were higher in hypercholesterolaemic patients than in controls. Significant reductions in body weight (2 kg, 3%), plasma total cholesterol (13.4 mg/dl, 5.3%), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (11.2 mg/dl, 6.4%), C-reactive protein (0.7 mg/l, 39%) and arterial stiffness (from 8.9+/-2.0 to 8.1+/-1.9 m/s, 11%) were achieved among hypercholesterolaemic patients after the 8-week diet (P<0.05 for all). Bivariate correlations and multivariate analysis showed reduction in arterial stiffness after short-term diet to be associated with reduction of plasma C-reactive protein levels (r=0.59, beta=0.38, P<0.05 for both).


Short-term low-cholesterol/low-saturated fat diet in hypercholesterolaemia may be effective in improving large artery stiffness, likely through the mitigation of low-grade systemic inflammation.

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