High-protein diet linked to heart failure in older women

Story highlights

  • Women older than 50 with a high-protein diet could be at higher risk for heart failure, study says
  • The risk was especially high for women who got most of their protein from meat

(CNN)Women older than 50 who eat high-protein diets could have a greater risk of heart failure, especially if a lot of their protein comes from meat, according to a new study presented at the annual scientific conference of the American Heart Association.

Researchers found that postmenopausal women who follow a high-protein diet had a significantly higher rate of heart failure than those who ate less protein daily or ate more vegetable protein.
    The study examined the dietary protein intake of 103,878 women, ages 50 to 79, from 1993 to 1998. They self-reported their daily diets, which researchers noted can be unreliable; researchers also used biomarker data to determine actual amounts of dietary protein. Although all participants were free of heart failure during that period, about 1,700 of them developed heart failure by 2005.
      Researchers adjusted for age, education, race or ethnicity and heart failure risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease, anemia or atrial fibrillation.
      "We found that by increasing the total dietary protein intake, there was a statically significant increase in the incidence of heart failure," said Dr. Mohamad Barbour, an internist at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island and lead author of the study.
      In fact, the risk was almost double.
      Meanwhile, women whose proteins were sourced mainly from vegetables appeared to be at a lower risk of heart failure.