Those who eat diets high in fruits and vegetables may be at a decreased risk for an often deadly form of aortic aneurysm, according to researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institute.
An aortic aneurysm is a general term for an enlargement (dilation) of the aorta to greater than 1.5 times normal size. While the cause of an aneurysm may be multifactorial, the end result is an underlying weakness in the wall of the aorta at that location. The aneurysm may occasionally cause pain, which is a sign of impending rupture. When rupture occurs, massive internal hemorrhage results, and, unless treated immediately, shock and death can occur within minutes to hours.
Researchers broke 80,000 people between the ages of 46 and 84 into four groups, determined by the amount of fruits and vegetables they consumer daily.
Over the course of the 13-year study, 1,086 people had abdominal aortic aneurysms and 222 of those ruptured. Many such aneurysms are lethal, as they occur in the body's main aorta. The researchers found that those who ate the most fruits and vegetables were 31 percent less likely to suffer an abdominal aortic aneurysms and 39 percent less likely to have one rupture.
"A high consumption of fruits may help to prevent many vascular diseases, and our study suggests that a lower risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm will be among the benefits. Vegetables remain important for health. Other studies have found that eating more fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and several cancers," said lead researcher Otto Stackelberg.