Fish eaters and vegetarians/vegans appear to have a lower incidence of ischaemic heart disease than meat eaters, although vegetarians/vegans appear to have a higher incidence of stroke

In September 2019 researchers from the UK published the results of their study to assess the effect of vegetarianism on the risk of ischaemic heart disease and stroke. A total of 48,188 individuals with no history of ischaemic heart disease, stroke or angina (or cardiovascular disease) were involved in the study. Dietary information was collected at the start of the study folowing which the individuals were divided into three distinct diet groups: 24,428 were meat eaters (regardless of whether they consumed fish, dairy, or eggs), 7,506 fish eaters (consumed fish but no meat), and 16,254 either vegetarians or vegans. Over a follow-up period of 18 years, there were 2,820 diagnoses of ischaemic heart disease and 1,072 diagnoses of stroke. Results showed that compared to meat eaters, fish eaters had a 13% lower incidence and vegetarians a 22% lower incidence of ischaemic heart disease. This difference was equivalent to 10 fewer cases of ischaemic heart disease in vegetarians than in meat eaters per 1000 population over a period of 10 years. However, vegetarians had a 20% higher incidence of stroke than meat eaters, which was equivalent to three more cases of stroke per 1000 population over 10 years.

Tong TYN et al. Risks of ischaemic heart disease and stroke in meat eaters, fish eaters, and vegetarians over 18 years of follow-up: results from the prospective EPIC-Oxford study. BMJ. 2019 Sep 4;366:l4897

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