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Current Vascular Pharmacology


ISSN (Print): 1570-1611
ISSN (Online): 1875-6212

Review Article

Diet and Sudden Death: How to Reduce the Risk

Author(s): Antonis S. Manolis*, Theodora A. Manolis, Antonis A. Manolis and Helen Melita

Volume 20, Issue 5, 2022

Published on: 23 August, 2022

Page: [383 - 408] Pages: 26

DOI: 10.2174/1570161120666220621090343

Price: $65


In addition to the association of dietary patterns, specific foods and nutrients with several diseases, including cardiovascular disease and mortality, there is also strong emerging evidence of an association of dietary patterns with the risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). In this comprehensive review, data are presented and analyzed about foods and diets that mitigate the risk of ventricular arrhythmias (VAs) and SCD, but also about arrhythmogenic nutritional elements and patterns that seem to enhance or facilitate potentially malignant VAs and SCD. The antiarrhythmic or protective group comprises fish, nuts and other foods enriched in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, the Mediterranean and other healthy diets, vitamins E, A and D and certain minerals (magnesium, potassium, selenium). The arrhythmogenic-food group includes saturated fat, trans fats, ketogenic and liquid protein diets, the Southern and other unhealthy diets, energy drinks and excessive caffeine intake, as well as heavy alcohol drinking. Relevant antiarrhythmic mechanisms include modification of cell membrane structure by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, their direct effect on calcium channels and cardiomyocytes and their important role in eicosanoid metabolism, enhancing myocyte electric stability, reducing vulnerability to VAs, lowering heart rate, and improving heart rate variability, each of which is a risk factor for SCD. Contrarily, saturated fat causes calcium handling abnormalities and calcium overload in cardiomyocytes, while a high-fat diet causes mitochondrial dysfunction that dysregulates a variety of ion channels promoting VAs and SCD. Free fatty acids have been considered proarrhythmic and implicated in facilitating SCD; thus, diets increasing free fatty acids, e.g., ketogenic diets, should be discouraged and replaced with diets enriched with polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can also reduce free fatty acids. All available relevant data on this important topic are herein reviewed, large studies and meta-analyses and pertinent advisories are tabulated, while protective (antiarrhythmic) and arrhythmogenic specific diet constituents are pictorially illustrated.

Keywords: Sudden cardiac death, ventricular arrhythmias, nutrition, diet, food, fish, nuts, polyunsaturated fat acids, cardiovascular disease.

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