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Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes
Year: 2010  |  Volume: 3  |  Issue: 4  |  Page No.: 366 - 373

Mediterranean Dietary Pattern Is Associated With Improved Cardiac Autonomic Function Among Middle-Aged Men: A Twin Study

J Dai, R Lampert, P. W Wilson, J Goldberg, T. R Ziegler and V. Vaccarino    

Abstract: Background—

Reduced heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of cardiac autonomic dysfunction, is a risk factor for coronary artery disease. Diet can influence HRV, but this association may be confounded by genetic and environmental factors.

Methods and Results—

We administered the Willett Food Frequency Questionnaire to 276 middle-aged male twins. We derived a score measuring the extent to which an individual's diet conformed to the Mediterranean diet following a published algorithm. The higher the score, the greater the similarity to the Mediterranean diet. All twins underwent 24-hour ambulatory ECG recording. Time and frequency domain measures of HRV were calculated. Mixed-effects regression was used to partition the association into between- and within-twin pair differences. After adjusting for energy intake, other nutritional factors, shared genes, and common environment, a 1-unit higher score was significantly associated with 3.9% to 13% higher time and frequency domain HRV parameters. Further controlling for known cardiovascular risk factors and use of fish oil supplements and medications did not substantially change the estimates.

Conclusions—

The Mediterranean dietary pattern is associated with higher HRV.

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