A key ‘take home’ message from the 85th EAS congress in Prague is that the lower LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) is, the better, and that the earlier LDL-cholesterol is reduced, the better.
This message was especially emphasized in the session entitled “Progress in understanding the role of nutrition in prevention of atherosclerosis” where the key role of diet (and lifestyle) in LDL-cholesterol lowering was highlighted by three internationally renowned speakers.
Brian A Ference from the USA explained that when blood LDL-cholesterol is kept low throughout life, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) can be prevented much more effectively than when already elevated cholesterol levels are reduced later in life with e.g. cholesterol-lowering medication. Diet plays a crucial role in this early cholesterol management since a healthy diet and lifestyle are the only cholesterol-lowering means that can be safely implemented in a population from early life.
Ursula Schwab from Finland talked about the Mediterranean diet, the best-known heart-healthy dietary pattern recognized for not only improving risk factors for CVD, but also shown to reduce CVD events. Prof Schwab further talked about the Nordic diet, as another heart healthy diet pattern that utilizes healthy food items that are found locally and commonly consumed in Nordic countries. Both diet patterns are evidence-based and they both emphasize the consumption of vegetables, fruit and berries, vegetable oils and spreads rich in unsaturated fats, fish and lean meat, whole grains, as well as fat-free or low-fat milk products.
Gabrielle Riccardi from Italy reviewed the latest dietary recommendations included in the recent European guidelines on the management of dyslipidemia (2016 EAS/ESC guidelines). He stressed the importance of following a healthy diet for individuals who have normal or mildly elevated cholesterol levels but also for patients who already need cholesterol-lowering medication. Diet and lifestyle advice should always form the foundation of CVD prevention and treatment. As described in the European guidelines, Prof Riccardi also referred to the impact of specific dietary interventions to reduce LDL-cholesterol levels and in this context recommend foods with added plant stanols or sterols for an additional benefit above a cholesterol-lowering diet.
The 85th EAS congress gathered more than 2400 researchers, clinicians, students, and industry representatives to Prague. The role of a healthy diet and lifestyle in CVD prevention and blood cholesterol management was emphasized throughout the congress, in a plenary session and a special session on Nutraceuticals for early control of dyslipidaemia. The role that plant sterols and stanols can play as part of a cholesterol-lowering diet was highlighted by several speakers.