BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The aims of this study were to identify dietary patterns in a general population of North Italian adults and to investigate the cross-sectional association between prevalent dietary patterns and arterial stiffness.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Participants to the RoCAV study without chronic diseases at recruitment and with reliable dietary data were included. The food-frequency EPIC questionnaire was used to evaluate dietary habits. Dietary patterns were estimated using principal components analysis and Mediterranean diet adherence score (MedS). Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV) was used as proxy of arterial stiffness. Basing on data from 2640 subjects (1608 men and 1032 women, mean ± SD 65.5 ± 6.7 years), four principal components (PC) were retained, explaining 24% of the overall variance. Considering 1284 subjects with cfPWV (mean ± SD 10.7 ± 2.5 m/s) data available, adherence to PC1 (Western-like dietary pattern) was associated with higher stiffness values (+0.29 m/s cfPWV for 1 SD increase of PC1, 95% CI:0.08,0.50; p = 0.007) in a multivariate model. Conversely, adherence to PC2 (Mediterranean-like) was not related to cfPWV values (-0.18, 95% CI: -0.36, 0.004; p = 0.06). Likewise, MedS and other PC patterns did not show any significant association with cfPWV. Mediation analysis showed that the association between Western-like dietary pattern and cfPWV is mediated by higher levels of leucocytes (9.2% of the effect, p = 0.047).
CONCLUSIONS: Our study in a Southern European population identified a Western-like dietary pattern associated with an increased cfPWV, a proxy of arterial stiffness. The association with cfPWV was in part mediated by inflammatory status.