Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Intake of specific flavonoids and risk of acute myocardial infarction in Italy

Alessandra Tavania1 c1, Luana Spertinia1, Cristina Bosettia1, Maria Parpinela2, Patrizia Gnagnarellaa3, Francesca Bravia1, Julie Petersona4, Johanna Dwyera5, Pagona Lagioua6, Eva Negria1 and Carlo La Vecchiaa1a7

a1 Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche ‘Mario Negri’, Via Eritrea 62, I-20157 Milan, Italy

a2 Istituto di Igiene, Università di Udine, Udine, Italy

a3 Divisione di Epidemiologia e Biostatistica, Istituto Europeo di Oncologia, Milan, Italy

a4 Frances Stern Nutrition Center, Tufts–New England Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA

a5 Schools of Medicine, Nutrition and the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA

a6 Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Athens Medical School, Athens, Greece

a7 Istituto di Statistica Medica e Biometria, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy


Objective As intake of flavonoids has been associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease but data on the relation with specific classes of flavonoids are scarce, we assessed the relation between dietary intake of specific classes of flavonoids and the risk of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in an Italian population.

Design Case–control study. Dietary information was collected by interviewers on a questionnaire tested for validity and reproducibility. Adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were obtained by multiple logistic regression models including terms for energy and alcohol intake, as well as sociodemographic factors, tobacco and other major recognised risk factors for AMI.

Setting Milan, Italy, between 1995 and 2003.

Subjects Cases were 760 patients, below age 79 years, with a first episode of non-fatal AMI, and controls were 682 patients admitted to hospital for acute conditions unrelated to diet.

Results A reduced risk of AMI was found for increasing intake of anthocyanidins (OR = 0.45, 95% CI 0.26–0.78 for the highest vs. the lowest quintile, Ptrend = 0.003) and flavonols (OR = 0.65, 95% CI 0.41–1.02, Ptrend = 0.02). A tendency towards reduced risks, although not significant, was observed for flavan-3-ols (OR = 0.73, 95% CI 0.48–1.10) and total flavonoids (OR = 0.74, 95% CI 0.49–1.14). No meaningful heterogeneity was found between the sexes. No association emerged for other flavonoids, including isoflavones, flavanones and flavones.

Conclusions High intake of anthocyanidins reduced the risk of AMI even after allowance for alcohol, fruit and vegetables, supporting a real inverse association between this class of flavonoids and AMI risk.

(Received May 10 2005)

(Accepted August 10 2005)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email