BACKGROUND: The main underlying risk factors associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) are modifiable and oxidative injury and systemic inflammatory damage represent key aetiological factors associated with the development and progression of CHD and premature mortality.
OBJECTIVE: To examine associations of plasma antioxidant status with all-cause mortality and fatal or non-fatal cardiovascular events.
DESIGN: The PRIME study prospectively evaluated 9709 men aged 50-59 years between 1991 and 1993 in Northern Ireland and France who were free of CHD at recruitment and followed annually for deaths and cardiovascular events for 10 years. Serum concentrations of vitamin C, retinol, two forms of vitamin E (α- and γ-tocopherol) and six carotenoids were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography. Baseline conventional risk factors were considered, as well as socioeconomic differences and lifestyle behaviours including diet, smoking habit, physical activity, and alcohol consumption through Cox regression analyses.
RESULTS: At 10 years, there were 538 deaths from any cause and 440 fatal or non-fatal cardiovascular events. After adjustment for country, age, systolic blood pressure, diabetes, body mass index, cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, height, total physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking habit, higher levels of all antioxidants were associated with significantly lower risk of all-cause mortality, with the exception of γ-tocopherol. Only retinol was significantly associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular events in a fully adjusted model.
CONCLUSIONS: Low antioxidant levels contribute to the gradient of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular incidence independent of lifestyle behaviours and traditional cardiovascular and socioeconomic risk factors.