Anna D. Garrett, PharmD, BCPS, CPP
Published Online: Thursday, March 1, 2007

A healthy diet has been proven to reduce the risks of many types of disease, but little is known about the role of diet in the development of venous thromboembolism (VTE). A recently published prospective study of nearly 15,000 patients who were followed over 12 years showed a decreased risk of VTE in patients who consumed fish 1 or more times per week and 4 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Diet was assessed using a 66-item questionnaire. Participants were divided into quintiles based on the number of servings they ate of 6 different food groups. These food groups included whole grains, refined grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy, fish, and processed meat. Patients in quintiles 2 through 5 who ate fish once or more per week had a 30% to 45% lower risk of VTE, compared with quintile 1. Patients who ate larger amounts of fruits and vegetables had a 27% to 53% lower risk of VTE. These results were suggestive of trends but not statistically significant.

The authors postulated that participants who ate more of these 2 food groups had a higher intake of folate and omega-3 fatty acids. Increased folate intake has been associated with lower levels of homocysteine, which may lower risk of VTE. Omega-3 fatty acids have positive effects on vascular function, which may also lower VTE risk. This study is the first prospective study of the effect of diet on VTE. Further study is required to verify the relationship of diet to VTE risk.

Dr. Garrett is a clinical pharmacist practitioner at Cornerstone Health Care in High Point, NC.

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