(RxWiki News) Consuming a high fat diet doesn't just cause you to pack on the pounds. It also may prematurely damage your blood vessels, which could lead to high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers discovered that a diet high in fatty foods can rapidly alter blood vessels, particularly small arteries.
"Consume low fat foods to protect your arteries."
Marie Billaud, a research associate with the Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, determined that even in the early stages of obesity, structural damage occurs to both small and large blood vessels, and arterial stiffness also was found in small vessels.
She noted that the smaller blood vessels were targeted sooner, which could play a role in developing hypertension in individuals who consume a high fat diet long term.
Previous studies had indicated that structural changes in the artery walls act as a significant predictor of cardiovascular disease.
During the current study researchers compared the arterial stiffness of the neck's carotid artery, the large artery for purposes of the study, and thoracodorsal, or small vessels, in two groups of mice. One group was fed a high fat diet for six weeks, while the second group received a traditional diet.
After only a month and a half of the high fat diet, investigators found that the structural properties of the small blood vessels had changed significantly. In addition, artery stiffness was reduced and collagen build-up was found in the walls of the small blood vessels.
Arterial stiffness was unchanged in the large blood vessels, though researchers suggested that they also would be affected by the high fat diet, but not as quickly.
The finding was recently published in Springer's Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research.