What about the INTERHEART study on heart attack risk factors?

This study might also be of interest to you and your other readers: http://www.ama-med.org.ar/obesidad/Interheart-LANCET-2004.pdf. As always, your comments and insights would be most welcome.

patmcneill / Originally posted on Heart attacks and cholesterol: Purely a question of diet


Thank you Pat! The Lancet is one of my favorite journals.

Sponsored by the World Health Organization, the INTERHEART study you point out was indeed a monumental undertaking, trying to tease out modifiable risk factors for heart attacks across populations in more than 50 countries on every inhabited continent. They concluded that more than 90% of the risk of our #1 killer is attributed to things we can do something about, like eating fruits and vegetables every day.

The most important risk factor by far was cholesterol–twice as important as exercise–followed by smoking. The designated discussant at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, where the results were first reported, lamented “mankind is doing a good job of killing himself.” Their follow-up study, called INTERSTROKE, published in 2010 concluded that 90% of strokes were preventable as well.

I talk about preventing strokes in my 2012 summary presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death. For more on more on preventing heart attacks see, for example:

Image credit: duh.denise / Flickr

  • Joe

    Hi Dr Greger,

    Can you please clarify this post? I have read several articles saying the Interheart study is strangely silent on the topic of saturated fats and LDL – one from the BMJ here:


    They certainly seem ambiguous in the summary, referring to ‘Abnormal lipids’, but the full text is not accessible.

    Cholesterol is such an important topic, because on the one hand it has been used by Statin manufacturers as the evil scapegoat, and on the other hand it is essential for many bodily functions. It is also one of the pivotal nutrients between vegans and meat eaters.

    I saw the same misinterpretation following the Framingham Study. Then there is the confusion between the good and the bad – HDL and LDL.

    Any chance of a video series clearing up this mess once and for all?

    Many thanks, Joe