Iron-deficiency during middle age can increase the risk of heart disease by almost 25 percent, according to scientists.
A new study entitled ‘Iron deficiency in middle age is linked with higher risk of developing heart disease’ found that eating iron-rich foods could prevent such diseases.
Good sources of iron can be found in meat but also foods like lentils, Brazil nuts, leafy greens, spinach, mushrooms and potatoes, among others.
“This analysis suggests that if iron deficiency had been absent at baseline, about five percent of deaths, 12 percent of cardiovascular deaths, and 11 percent of new coronary heart disease diagnoses would not have occurred in the following decade,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Benedikt Schrage, of the University Heart and Vasculature Center in Germany, was quoted as saying in a media release.
The team of researchers studied over 12,000 older men and women from European countries over the course of 13 years.
They found that most cardiovascular events could have been avoided if all the individuals involved in the study did not have iron deficiency to begin with.
At least two of the study’s participants lacked the mineral that boosts blood flow, improving energy levels and strength.
“The study showed that iron deficiency was highly prevalent in this middle-aged population, with nearly two-thirds having functional iron deficiency. These individuals were more likely to develop heart disease and were also more likely to die during the next 13 years,” said Dr. Schrage.
Heart disease is a leading cause of death, claiming an average of around 18 million lives per year.
“This was an observational study, and we cannot conclude that iron deficiency causes heart disease,” Dr. Schrage said.
“However, evidence is growing that there is a link, and these findings provide the basis for further research to confirm the results.”