A meaty diet may increase the risk of heart failure in post-menopausal women, research has shown.
Scientists found that women over the age of 50 were significantly more vulnerable to the condition if they ate a lot of protein.
The trend appeared to be the result of eating meat since protein obtained from vegetables had a protective effect.
Adjusting for factors such as age, ethnicity, education level, high blood pressure, diabetes, artery disease or irregular heart rhythm did not alter the results.
Lead researcher Dr Mohamad Barbour, from Brown University in the US, said: “Higher calibrated total dietary protein intake appears to be associated with substantially increased heart failure risk while vegetable protein intake appears to be protective, although additional studies are needed to further explore this potential association.
“Our findings should be interpreted with caution, but it appears that following a high-protein diet may increase heart failure risk.”
Dr Barbour’s team analysed data from daily diet diaries kept by 103,878 women aged 50 to 79 for a period of five years.
During this time a total of 1,711 women developed heart failure, a weakening condition that prevents blood being pumped around the body efficiently.
In addition to relying on self-reported information, the scientists used a urine biomarker test to determine levels of dietary protein in the body.
Other studies have found an association between increased meat protein consumption and cardiovascular disease risk in women.
Dr Barbour, who presented the research at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting in New Orleans, added: “Heart failure is highly prevalent, especially in post-menopausal women; therefore, a better understanding of nutrition-related factors associated with heart failure is needed.”