More Protein Associated With Moderate Increase in Heart Failure in Men (except for fish and eggs) Interview with:
“mmmm Meat” by Glen MacLarty is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Jyrki Virtanen, PhD
Adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology
Heli Virtanen, MSc

University of Eastern Finland
Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition
Kuopio, Finland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Previous studies have found that animal sources of protein may have an adverse impact on the risk of cardiovascular diseases, like myocardial infarct, whereas plant sources of protein have had an opposite impact.

In this study we investigated that how protein intake from different dietary sources is associated with developing heart failure in men during the study’s follow-up. During the mean follow-up time of about 22 years, 334 men developed heart failure.

The main finding of the study was that higher protein intake was associated with a moderately higher risk of heart failure and the findings were similar with protein from most dietary sources, although the association was stronger with protein from animal sources. Only protein from fish and eggs were not associated with the risk in our study. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Because so far there is very little research about the impact of different proteins and protein sources on the risk of developing heart failure, one should not draw very strong conclusions based on this one study.

However, our findings suggest that high protein intake may have some adverse effects on health, especially if the protein is mainly coming from animal sources. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: More similar studies in diverse study populations would be definitely needed, particularly in populations including women. Because our study included only men, we cannot say that the findings would be similar also in women.

Especially more research is needed about the health effects of proteins from different sources. Like with fats and carbohydrates in diet, types and sources of protein may be more important for health than the total intake. 

Disclosures: No disclosures. The study was funded by the University of Eastern Finland and by Finnish research foundations. 


Heli E.K. Virtanen, Sari Voutilainen, Timo T. Koskinen, Jaakko Mursu, Tomi-Pekka Tuomainen, Jyrki K. Virtanen. Intake of Different Dietary Proteins and Risk of Heart Failure in Men. Circulation: Heart Failure, 2018; 11 (6): e004531 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.117.004531 

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Last Updated on May 31, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD