Skipping the Bacon to Save Your Heart

Processed red meat linked to heart failure and death

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Bacon for breakfast, a ham sandwich for lunch and hot dogs for dinner could be a recipe for heart failure.

A recent study found that heart failure rates were more common among people who ate the most processed red meat.

The authors of this study noted that eating unprocessed red meat did not carry the same risk.

"Reduce the amount of processed red meat in your diet."

Joanna Kaluza, PhD, of the Department of Human Nutrition at Warsaw University of Life Sciences, led this study.

According to the authors, about 5.7 million people in the United States experience heart failure each year, and diet plays an important role in heart health.

This study looked at how red meat consumption affected rates of heart failure.

The researchers used the Cohort of Swedish Men study, established in 1997, which included 37,035 men, ages 45 to 79 years old. 

The participants completed a questionnaire with information on their food choices, health history and other lifestyle factors.

The food frequency questionnaire assessed unprocessed and processed red meat intake.

Unprocessed food included pork, beef/veal and minced meat like ground beef. Processed meat included sausages, cold cuts like ham or salami, blood pudding or blood sausages.

The researchers then followed up with the men an average of 11.8 years later.

During the follow-up period, the researchers discovered 2,891 cases of heart failure diagnosis and 266 deaths from heart failure.

The researchers found that eating processed red meat was associated with heart failure risk among the participants.

Men who consumed more than 75 grams of processed meat per day were 1.28 times more likely to experience heart failure and 2.43 times more likely to die from heart failure than men who ate 25 grams or less daily.

Additionally, the risk of death after heart failure increased by 38 percent for each 50-gram daily increase in processed meat consumption.

The researchers noted that unprocessed meat did not seem to affect heart failure or heart failure death rates.

The authors of this study concluded that processed red meat may lead to heart problems, potentially because of the sodium and additives in the meat.

This study was published in Circulation: Heart Failure on June 12.

The research was supported by a research grant from the Swedish Research Council/Medicine and the Swedish Research Council/Infrastructure. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
June 12, 2014
Last Updated:
June 13, 2014