Life Extension Update
American Heart Association journal concludes majority of coronary events in older men may be preventable
A report published online in the journal Circulation on July 3, 2006 concluded that coronary events in older American men could be prevented in large part by adopting just five healthy lifestyle habits. The study is the first to examine the role of a healthy lifestyle in heart disease prevention among middle aged and older men.
Associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition Eric B. Rimm and research fellow Stephanie Chiuve of Harvard School of Public Health, and their colleagues conducted a 16 year follow-up of 42,847 participants in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which enrolled 51,529 male health professionals aged 40 to 75 in 1986. Questionnaires administered every two years provided updated information on medical conditions such as hypertension and elevated cholesterol, medication use, and lifestyle factors. Healthy lifestyle factors were defined as not smoking, daily moderate to vigorous exercise, consuming alcohol in moderation, maintaining a healthy weight, and consuming a healthy diet as based on the Harvard School of Public Health Alternate Healthy Eating Index.
Over the follow-up period there were 2,183 cases of nonfatal heart attack and fatal coronary heart disease. Participants whose questionnaire responses concerning all five healthy lifestyle practices placed them in the low risk category had an 87 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared to men who adhered to none of the five factors. Adopting at least two factors lowered risk by 27 percent.
The researchers estimated that 62 percent of the coronary events that occurred could have been prevented by adherence to the five lifestyle practices. Even men being treated for hypertension or cholesterol with drugs for these conditions could have had 57 percent of coronary events prevented by these improvements.
“A healthy lifestyle can be an effective, nonpharmacological approach to reducing coronary heart disease among men,” the authors conclude. Dr Cuive commented, "It's never too late to make changes to become healthier.”
In the world of conventional medicine, atherosclerosis is a widely misunderstood disease, perhaps because of a fundamental misconception about the nature of the arteries themselves. In this antiquated view, the arteries have been thought of as stiff pipes that gradually become clogged with excess cholesterol floating around the bloodstream. The solution recommended most often has been to reduce the dietary consumption of fats in order to lower levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood. Conventional medicine’s preferred method of reestablishing blood flow in clogged arteries is through surgery (coronary artery bypass graft surgery) or by insertion of catheters bearing tiny balloons that crush the plaque deposits against the arterial walls (angioplasty), followed by the implantation of tiny mesh tubes (stents) to keep the arteries open.
Today, our understanding of atherosclerosis has literally redefined the disease. We now understand atherosclerosis as a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the way arteries function at the most basic level. Instead of viewing the arteries as pipes through which blood flows, we now understand that arteries are muscular organs that change and adapt to their environment and contract and expand in response to multiple factors, helping to raise and lower blood pressure and distribute blood throughout the body. Finally, we have begun to unravel the biochemical processes that underlie atherosclerosis.
The following nutrients have been shown to improve endothelial function and reduce the damage caused by oxidized LDL, slowing the progression of atherosclerosis:
In the news: Plasma coQ10 levels predict melanoma progression; Sunscreens fail to protect against harmful UVA rays; Vitamins C and E, ibuprofen may prevent Alzheimer’s; Folate, vitamin B12 decrease breast cancer risk; Prehypertension greatly increases cardiovascular risk; Early diagnosis critical for surviving prostate cancer; Vitamin D and calcium reduce diabetes risk.
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