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Mediterranean diet impact on cardiovascular diseases: a narrative review

Mattioli, Anna V.a; Palmiero, Pasqualeb; Manfrini, Oliviac; Puddu, Paolo E.d; Nodari, Savinae; Dei Cas, Alessandraf; Mercuro, Giuseppeg; Scrutinio, Domenicoh; Palermo, Pietroi; Sciomer, Susannad; Di Francesco, Simonaj; Novo, Giuseppinak,l; Novo, Salvatorek,l; Pedretti, Roberto F.E.m; Zito, Annapaolan; Parati, Gianfrancoo; Pedrinelli, Robertop; Farinetti, Albertoa; Maiello, Mariab; Moscucci, Federicad; Tenaglia, Raffaele L.j; Sucato, Vincenzok,l; Triggiani, Marcog; Cugusi, Luciam; Scicchitano, Pietron; Saba, Pier S.q; Ciccone, Marco M.n

Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine: December 2017 - Volume 18 - Issue 12 - p 925–935
doi: 10.2459/JCM.0000000000000573

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for more than 17 million deaths per year worldwide. It has been estimated that the influence of lifestyle on CVD mortality amounts to 13.7% for smoking, 13.2% for poor diet, and 12% for inactive lifestyle. These results deeply impact both the healthy status of individuals and their skills in working. The impact of CVD on productivity loss accounts for the 24% in total costs for CVD management.

Mediterranean diet (MedD) can positively impact on natural history of CVD. It is characterized by a relatively high consumption of inexpensive and genuine food such as cereals, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish, fresh fruits, and olive oil as the principal source of fat, low meat consumption and low-to-moderate consumption of milk, dairy products, and wine.

Its effects on cardiovascular health are related to the significant improvements in arterial stiffness. Peripheral artery disease, coronary artery disease, and chronic heart failure are all positively influenced by the MedD. Furthermore, MedD lowers the risk of sudden cardiac death due to arrhythmias.

The present narrative review aims to analyze the effects of MedD on CVD.

aSurgical, Medical and Dental Department of Morphological Sciences Related to Transplant, Oncology and Regenerative Medicine, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena

bDepartment of Cardiology, ASL Brindisi, Brindisi

cDepartment of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine, University of Bologna, Bologna

dDepartment of Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Nephrological, Anesthesiological and Geriatric Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome

eDepartment of Clinical and Surgical Specialities, Radiological Sciences and Public Health, University of Brescia, Brescia

fEndocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Parma, Parma

gDepartment of Medical Sciences ‘M. Aresu’, University of Cagliari, Cagliari

hDepartment of Cardiology ‘S. Maugeri’ Foundation, IRCCS, Institute of Cassano Murge, Bari

iDepartment of Cardiology, Centro Cardiologico Monzino, IRCCS, Milano

jSection of Urology, Department of Medical and Oral Sciences and Biotechnologies, G. D’Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti

kDepartment for Promotion of Health (PROSAMI), University of Palermo

lDepartment of Cardiology, University Hospital ‘Paolo Giaccone’, Palermo

mDepartment of Cardiac Rehabilitation, IRCCS Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri, Scientific Institute of Tradate, Tradate, Varese

nCardiovascular Diseases Section, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation (DETO), University ‘A. Moro’ of Bari, Bari

oSchool of Medicine, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan

pCardiology Department, University of Pisa, Pisa

qDepartment of Cardiology, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy

Correspondence to Pietro Scicchitano, MD, Cardiovascular Diseases Section, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation (DETO), University ‘A. Moro’ of Bari, Piazza G. Cesare, 11-70124 Bari, Italy Tel: +39 0805593550; e-mail:,

Received 29 May, 2017

Revised 22 August, 2017

Accepted 29 August, 2017

© 2017 Italian Federation of Cardiology. All rights reserved.