Resveratrol shown to have heart-protective benefits.

The results of a randomized trial published online on April 19, 2012 in The American Journal of Cardiology reveal a benefit for resveratrol in reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors in men and women taking statin drugs. “We have carried out the longest human trial reported thus far using a resveratrol-containing product,” announce researchers Juan Carlos Espín, PhD and his associates at CEBAS-CSIC and Morales Meseguer University Hospital in Murcia, Spain.

Dr Espin’s team divided 74 participants who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease to receive a grape extract containing 8 milligrams resveratrol, a grape supplement without resveratrol or a placebo daily for six months, followed by a six month period during which the dose of the treatments was doubled. Blood samples collected at the beginning of the study and at six and twelve months were analyzed for clotting factors, markers of inflammation and other values.

While the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 increased and the anti-inflammatory molecule interleukin-10 had decreased by the end of the study in the placebo group, no changes were observed among those who received grape extract without resveratrol. Subjects who received resveratrol experienced a 1.3 milligram per liter average decrease in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) as well as a decline in tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a) by the end of twelve months, indicating a significant decrease in inflammation. Additionally, plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) was reduced, reflecting a reduction in the risk of excessive blood clotting, while adiponectin and interleukin 10 were increased in the group that received grape extract with resveratrol.

“In the present study, we describe for the first time that a dietary intervention with a specific grape nutraceutical containing resveratrol 8 milligrams significantly improved the inflammatory and fibrinolytic status of patients undergoing primary prevention of cardiovascular disease,” the authors write. “This resveratrol-rich grape supplement seemed to exert a statin-like effect beyond patients’ standard medication. In this regard, a synergistic effect between statins and this grape nutraceutical cannot be ruled out.”

“Our results show for the first time that a dietary intervention with grape resveratrol could complement the gold standard therapy in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease,” they conclude.

Resveratrol has been found to inhibit the proliferation of a variety of human cancer cell lines, including those from breast, prostate, stomach, colon, pancreatic, and thyroid cancers.

Resveratrol is found in red wine and is credited for being the source of the “French Paradox” where the French eat a very fatty rich diet, but they have very low incidence of heart disease – the daily drinking of red wine is credited for that very beneficial effect.

Red wines contain between 0.3mg and 1.30mg of Resveratrol per 5 ounce glass. So the 8mg dose they used in the study above would equate to drinking bottle or two of red wine daily.  The supplement I take has 15mg of resveratrol (and I take 2 per day, so 30mg) so my daily intake of resveratrol equals probably 8-10 bottles of red wine per day. So all the benefit without the hangover or destroying my liver!

So enjoy a glass of red wine for your heart and better yet, add some resveratrol to your supplement regime.

What is CoQ10 good for?

I had a friend ask this question a while back, so here a recent research just out showing the benefits of CoQ10 or Coenzyme Q10 supplementation lowering interleukin-6 and providing antioxidant benefits in coronary artery disease patients.

Inflammation plays a role in the development of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the Western world. While coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplementation can benefit the heart, few studies have investigated its role in protecting against inflammation in heart disease patients.

In a trial described in an article published on February 16, 2012 in the journal Nutrition, researchers at Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan compared the effects of twelve weeks of supplementation with 60 or 150 milligrams per day of CoQ10, or a placebo in 40 men and women with coronary artery disease. Plasma CoQ10 levels, markers of inflammation including high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), interleukin-6 and homocysteine; malondialdehyde (a marker of lipid peroxidation) and levels of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) were measured before and after the treatment period.

At the beginning of the study, having a higher CoQ10 level was associated with a lower level of interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein. By the end of the treatment period, plasma coenzyme Q10 levels increased in both groups that received the supplement. Among those who received the higher dose, interleukin-6 levels decreased by 14 percent and malondialdehyde levels were significantly lower by the end of the trial compared to baseline levels. Both groups that received CoQ10 experienced greater SOD activity. A non-significant reduction in hs-CRP values was observed in association with CoQ10 supplementation.

“Cell culture experiments have demonstrated that coenzyme Q10 can moderate the anti-inflammatory effects of antioxidant activities and by nuclear factor-kappa beta1–dependent gene expression,” they write. “In the present study, coenzyme Q10 supplements at a dose of 150 milligrams showed a significant antioxidization effect in decreasing the malondialdehyde level and slightly increasing SOD activities after 12 weeks of intervention.”

“Coenzyme Q10 supplementation at a dosage of 150 milligrams appears to decrease the inflammatory marker interleukin-6 in patients with coronary artery disease,” the authors conclude. “Long-term studies are needed to establish the beneficial effects of higher-dosage coenzyme Q10 supplementation on inflammation in patients with coronary artery disease.”
(Above from LEF.org)

CoQ10 is especially if you’ve been prescribed statins to lower cholesterol. Statin drugs lower cholesterol by poisoning the metabolic pathway which produces cholesterol and in the process the bodies normal production of CoQ10 along with sex hormones are also poisoned. You’ll hear the warnings that if you take statins to watch out for muscle pain, this is because with lowered levels of CoQ10 you’re muscles can’t produced the energy they should. More dangerous than aching legs is what the reduced levels of CoQ10 do to your most powerful muscle, your heart. when the heart can’t pump enough blood due to reduced CoQ10 blood and fluids begin to back up in your lungs and the result is congestive heart failure. So if you are taking statins you must also supplement with CoQ10. Since statin drugs were introduced there has been a huge rise in deaths from congestive heart failure – but their cholesterol is lower.

Athletes will also burn up a lot of CoQ10 during strenuous workouts so they also should supplement to replace what they use up and many will also use CoQ10 to improve performance.

As usual, if you do take CoQ10 supplements make sure you use a reputable company who manufacture to certified pharmaceutical manufacturing procedures. I’ve personally visited a number of supplement manufactures as well as pharmaceutical drug manufacture and the quality control in many is woefully lacking. There are very few companies you can truly trust to consistently provide exactly what is listed on the label and nothing else.

Omega-3 and Heart Health

Intakes of omega-3 exceeding levels consumed by the general US population may significantly reduce the risk of chronic disease, suggests a new study with Yup’ik Eskimos.
High levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA(docosahexaenoic acid) were associated with lower levels of triglycerides, as well as higher levels of HDL cholesterol, according to data from 357 Yup’ik Eskimos published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Raised levels of the fatty acids were also associated with decreased levels of markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), which is produced in the liver and is a known marker for inflammation. Increased levels of CRP are a good predictor for the onset of both type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.CVD causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and is reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169 billion ($202 billion) per year.

The study of omega-3 intakes in inuits is nothing new. The first reports of the heart health benefits of the marine fatty acids were reported in the early 1970s by Jørn Dyerberg and his co-workers in The Lancet and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The young Danes sought to understand how the Greenland Eskimos, or Inuit as they prefer to be called, could eat a high fat diet and still have one of the lowest death rates from cardiovascular disease on the planet.

Despite the precedent of study in these populations, the new research, led by Zeina Makhoul from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, claims that: “Few studies have examined the associations of with biomarkers of chronic disease risk in populations with high intakes”.

In an attempt to fill this knowledge gap, they analysed blood levels of EPA and DHA in red blood cells of in a cross-section of 357 Yup’ik Eskimos.

Data showed EPA and DHA represented an average 2.8 and 6.8 percent, respectively, of the total fatty acid content of red blood cells.

In addition to the links between EPA and DHA levels and triglycerides and HDL, increased levels of DHA were positively with levels of LDL and total cholesterol, said the researchers.

While a link between EPA/DHA and CRP were reported, Makhoul and her co-workers noted that the link was stronger when EPA concentrations excessed 3 percent of fatty acids in the cells, and when DHA levels exceeded 7 percent.

“Increasing EPA and DHA intakes to amounts well above those consumed by the general US population may have strong beneficial effects on chronic disease risk,” they concluded.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28820
“Associations of very high intakes of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids with biomarkers of chronic disease risk among Yup’ik Eskimos”
Authros: Z. Makhoul, A.R. Kristal, R. Gulati, B. Luick, A. Bersamin, B. Boyer, G.V. Mohatt

Vegetarian diet can your boost cardiovascular health

Last year, when former President Bill Clinton gave up meat for his daughter’s very vegan wedding, it was an act of love that came straight from the heart.
In the long run, his decision to change his eating habits and shed 20 pounds for Chelsea just might save his heart, too.
The American Heart Association recommends eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats and poultry. But lately, plant-based diets have gotten a big boost from Clinton and others who believe it reduces the risk of heart disease.
Last month, the new USDA dietary guidelines for the first time highlighted the benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet, including a reduction in obesity and heart disease.
It’s never too early to take steps to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, which affects men and women. In fact, it kills twice as many women as all forms of cancer combined.
“We all should be worried about heart disease regardless of our age,” said Susan Levin, nutrition education director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “Most people, by the time they are 18, have plaque in their arteries.”
A vegan diet is more mainstream than ever, making it easier for novices to stick with it.
“It’s not a hippie folk dancer thing to do,” she said. “It’s just people who want take control of their health.”
Going vegan is just one way to love your heart, but it’s not the only option. If you’re not ready to give up meat, eggs and cheese quite yet, there are plenty of other ways to protect your heart.
Here, 11 ways to get a start. And some don’t even require a change in lifestyle.
1. Don’t go vegan overnight,
but give it a try
Take baby steps. Make Mondays meat-free. Instead of eating hot dogs, try tofu dogs. It’s not a health food, but it’s healthier than the alternative. And learn to love beans of all kinds.
“Fresh, dried, canned, frozen, however you can get a bean in your body, do it.” Levin said. “There are so many beans and so many things do with them.”
2. Drink more OJ
Two cups of 100 percent orange juice may be just what the cardiologist ordered.
A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking two cups a day for one month significantly improved health.
Men who participated in the study had a decrease in their diastolic blood pressure. The higher the diastolic blood pressure, the greater the risk for heart attacks and strokes.
In the study, the men’s blood vessels widened, leading to a decrease in blood pressure and a reduction in the heart’s workload.
3. Get your heart rate up
To improve cardiovascular health, get your heart rate up to 70-85 percent of its maximal rate for at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week. To determine your maximal heart rate, subtract your age from 220.
4. Spice it up
Cinnamon, garlic and basil are just a few heart disease-fighting staples in most kitchens.
A 2003 study found that just half a teaspoon of cinnamon daily lowered cholesterol, blood glucose and triglyceride levels. Another perk: Just one teaspoon provides 1 gram of fiber. Add it to your coffee, oatmeal or hot chocolate for a delicious treat.
Regular consumption of garlic can also decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 10 percent, according to researchers at Brigham Young University.
And basil increases blood circulation to the heart.
5. Take two
Taking two baby aspirin may protect your heart more than taking a single aspirin with only a slight increase in the risk of bleeding or other side effects, according to the authors of Prevent, Halt and Reverse Heart Disease.
Aspirin therapy can lessen the risk of clots forming and blocking narrowed coronary arteries. It can also ease the severity of new heart problems and can help minimize damage at the onset of a heart attack.
Before popping any pills on a daily basis, you should check with your doctor. Daily aspirin therapy is only recommended for those who have had heart attacks or stroke or have other high-risk factors.
Keeping uncoated aspirin handy just might save your life. One study of more than 17,000 people found a 23 percent reduction in the death rate when aspirin was taken within 24 hours of the onset of heart-attack symptoms.
6. Drink your chocolate
Choosing the right chocolate can benefit your heart but you have to be choosy.
Pure chocolate, made from cocoa beans, is rich in flavonol, an antioxidant that may protect arteries from damage, maintain healthy blood flow and fend off heart disease, according to Lona Sandon, a registered dietician at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain the highest levels of flavonol.
But when sugar, milk and butter are added during processing, those benefits go out the door and that candy bar becomes just another fattening treat.
A better option is to drink a cup of hot cocoa — an appealing choice during chilly days.
“Research suggests that drinking a cup of dark hot chocolate can be equated with drinking a glass of wine in protecting the heart,” Sandon said. “It’s what’s added to it that’s not so good for us.”
7. Floss
It is a habit that some people never practice, but flossing not only improves your smile, it can also save your heart.
Inflammation caused by chronic mouth infections irritates the arteries of the heart, making them more susceptible to plaque buildup. Bacteria from the mouth also can enter the bloodstream and attach to plaque in arteries.
8. Meditate
Adults with coronary heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation had nearly 50 percent lower rates of heart attacks and strokes compared to those who didn’t in a nine-year study of 201 African-American men and women.
The participants also had significant reductions in blood pressure and stress.
9. Don’t light up — ever
As a nation we’ve finally gotten the message that smoking is bad for our health.
But the growing rate of casual or social smoking among younger adults raises new concerns.
Even an occasional cigarette raises your risk for health disease, stroke and cancer, said Dr. Jarett Berry, a cardiologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center. And people who are exposed to secondhand smoke at work have a higher risk of disease.
10. Check it out
Go to the American Heart Association website and get your personal health score and life plan. The My Life assessment is a sure way to get on a heart-healthy path. While you are there, look for heart-healthy tips, recipes and other ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Check out www.heart.org.
11. Take a high quality multivitamin
The great benefit of a vegetarian diet is that it is loaded with fiber and very filling, so you don’t eat as much. But today’s produce is not a nutrient dense as it was a century ago so to insure you have optimal levels of all the essential vitamins and minerals, take a high quality, pharmaceutical grade, multivitamin.
Fort Worth StarTelegram, Tx

Positive emotions may buffer stress, aging

An optimistic outlook has been shown to combat stress — a known risk factor for heart disease and other illnesses, U.S. researchers say.
Anthony Ong of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., conducted a review of researchers to determine if it is really true that feeling good may be good for health.
“We all age. It is how we age, however, that determines the quality of our lives,” Ong says in a statement.
The review, published in the Current Directions in Psychological Science, suggests positive emotions may be a powerful antidote to stress, pain and illness.
Ong speculates that happier people might take a proactive approach to aging by regularly exercising and budgeting time for a good night’s sleep, or people who have positive emotions may avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and risky sex.
These benefits of a healthy lifestyle may become more important as adults age and their bodies become more susceptible to disease, Ong says.
In any event, the study says people with stronger positive emotions have lower levels of chemicals associated with inflammation related to stress.
Copyright United Press International 2011

Nutrients for a Healthy Heart

Cardiovascular and heart disease are the leading cause of death in the United States, leading to 1 in 4deaths among Americans. Unlike some of the other leading causes of death, most cases of heart and cardiovascular disease can be prevented with proper diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes by the individual. Although there are certain hereditary factors involved with heart disease, these too can be overcome with proper attention to nutrition and healthy living. There are a large number of nutrients and supplements that can help prevent heart disease and improve overall cardiovascular health. Most of these reduce the number of free radicals in the bloodstream that can cause damage to heart tissue or they interact with cholesterol to raise the ratio of HDL Cholesterol (good) to LDL Cholesterol (bad).

Antioxidants are substances that bind and eliminate free radicals. Left unchecked, free radicals interact with the DNA of cells and cause cell death or cancer. The cells of the heart are especially susceptible to damage from free radicals, which make antioxidant nutrients a valuable tool in protecting the heart. There are many different classes of antioxidants including some that are our common everyday vitamins. Vitamins A, C and E are among the most potent antioxidants our body uses. Increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables along with nuts and seeds are a great way of improving your overall cardiovascular and heart health. Nutrients such as Flavonoids, Lycopene and Lutein are also very strong antioxidants which the body can use to eliminate free radicals.

The other significant way that nutrients can help prevent heart and cardiovascular disease is to shift the percentage of HDL to LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is largely responsible for the buildup of plaque on the inside walls of arteries and veins. This buildup leads to high blood pressure and also can result in a complete blockage. The arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the heart tissue are especially susceptable to blockage. When these arteries become blocked, heart tissue dies. This is commonly called a heart attack or myocardial infarction. Vitamin E, along with Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids from fish are invaluable nutrients that keep LDL cholesterol percentages decreased.

There are other nutrients including Niacin, Magnesium and Vitamin B that have been shown to reverse damage already done to the heart and to prevent plaque from building up inside veins and arteries. Potassium is another key nutrient as it helps to lower blood pressure by counteracting sodium in the bloodstream.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables will not only help prevent cardiovascular disease by helping to control an individuals weight, these foods also contain enormous amounts of the vitamins and minerals proven to reduce and prevent heart and cardiovascular disease. Along with oily fish such as salmon and nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables will go a long way in preventing you from becoming one of the 25% of people whose death is caused by cardiovascular disease.

by Peter Sedesex

Olive oil compound shows heart health potential: Human study

An olive extract rich in hydroxytyrosol may be effective for reducing levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, suggests a new study from Spain that extends the heart health potential of hydroxytyrosol.

Supplementing the diet with hydroxytyrosol-enriched sunflower oil was associated with higher activity levels of the enzyme arylesterase, said to be an antioxidant biomarker, as well as lower levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, believed to be a major player in terms of promoting atherosclerosis, the build up of fatty plaques in the arteries, and in cardiovascular disease in general.

Researchers from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid report their results in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Hydroxytyrosol is thought to be the main antioxidant compound in olives, and believed to play a significant role in the many health benefits attributed to olive oil. Previous research has linked the compound to cardiovascular benefits, with reductions in LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol. Data has also suggested the compound may boost eye health and reduce the risk of against macular degeneration.

Study details

The Madrid based researchers recruited 22 healthy volunteers aged between 20 and 45 years and with a BMI between 18 and 33 kg/m2. Volunteers were randomly assigned to received the 10 to 15 grams per day of hydroxytyrosol-enriched sunflower oil or non-enriched sunflower oil for three weeks. The former provided a daily hydroxytyrosol dose of between 45 and 50 mg. After the initial three weeks, the volunteers had two weeks of no intervention before crossing over to receive the other intervention.

Results showed no changes in total, LDL-, and HDL-cholesterol between the groups. However, consumption of the hydroxytyrosol-enriched sunflower oil produced significant reductions in oxidised LDL from 79.8 units per liter at the start of the study to 64.1 U/l after three weeks, compared to an increase from 72.7 to 86.4 U/l during the control phase.

Furthermore, the activity of arylesterase increased from 235.2 to 448.9 U/l during the hydroxytyrosol phase, compared with an increase from 204.1 to 310.3 U/l during the control phase.

“Although hydroxytyrosol-enriched sunflower oil was unable to reduce LDL-cholesterol or increase HDL-cholesterol, it acts as a functional food by increasing arylesterase activity and reducing oxidised LDL,” report the researchers. “This oil can therefore be used as a dietary complement to reduce CVD risk.

“Further studies are needed to understand the mechanisms by which hydroxytyrosol affects arylesterase activity and influences the arylesterase activity:HDL-cholesterol ratio,” they concluded.

Source: British Journal of Nutrition

We heard for years how good olive oil is, but the big drawback to consuming optimal levels of olive oils is the calories. Usana Health Sciences has a patented process to extract the active, highly bioavailable phenolic antioxidants to be so protective in the study above and many others.

Higher magnesium levels linked with lower risk of sudden cardiac death

from LEF.org
An article published online on November 24, 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports a protective effect for higher plasma and dietary magnesium against the risk of sudden cardiac death in women. Up to 68 percent of women and 55 percent of men who undergo sudden cardiac death have no clinically recognized cardiovascular disease prior to the events, which take 184,000 to 462,000 people’s lives each year.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University analyzed data from 88,375 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study who were free of disease in 1980. Questionnaires completed in 1980, 1984, 1986 and every four years through 2002 provided information on magnesium intake from food and supplements. Blood samples drawn from 32,826 participants between 1989 and 1990 were analyzed for plasma magnesium, lipids and other factors. Sudden cardiac deaths were defined as those that occurred within 1 hour of symptom onset or involved arrhythmia.
Over the 26 year follow-up period, there were 295 definite and 210 probable sudden cardiac deaths among the participants. Women whose magnesium intake was among the highest 25 percent of the subjects at greater than 345 milligrams per day had a 34 percent lower adjusted risk of sudden cardiac death compared to those whose intake was lowest at less than 261 milligrams. A similar reduction in risk was observed in those whose intake was in the second quartile.
Having high plasma magnesium also appeared to be protective against sudden cardiac death, with those whose levels were among the highest top 25 percent at over 2.1 milligrams per deciliter experiencing a 77 percent lower adjusted risk compared to those in the lowest 25 percent.
In their introduction to the article, the authors remark that magnesium plays a vital role in cardiac electrophysiology, and that studies have found that the mineral has an antiarrhythmic property. Epidemiologic studies have uncovered a protective effect for increased plasma magnesium levels against cardiovascular disease and for fatal coronary artery disease events, which the authors suggest could be explained if magnesium was protective against fatal ventricular arrhythmias. “Given that most Americans do not meet the RDA [recommended daily allowance] for magnesium, increasing intake of magnesium presents a potential opportunity for sudden cardiac death prevention in the general population,” they write. “If further studies replicate these findings, this hypothesis may warrant testing in randomized trials.”
What is important to remember is that vitamins and minerals are not drugs and work best in coordination with other nutrients in the proper forms and proportions. For best overall health a high quality multivitamin should be taken at least twice daily. 

Drinking tea cuts risk of heart disease by one-third

Drinking several cups of tea or coffee daily appears to cut your risk of heart disease by more than one-third, Dutch researchers have found.

“It’s basically a good news story for those who like tea and coffee,” said lead researcher Yvonne van der Schouw. “These drinks appear to offer benefits for the heart without raising the risk of dying from anything else.”

The study appeared in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, a journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers followed 40,000 healthy people for 13 years, then compared rates of heart disease with consumption of coffee and tea. They found that participants who drank between three and six cups of tea per day were 45 percent less likely to die from heart disease than those who drank less than a cup a day.

Drinking coffee or larger amounts of tea was also protective against death from heart disease, but not as strongly. People who drank more than six cups of tea a day reduced their risk by 36 percent compared with the low tea-drinking group, while those who drank between two and four cups of coffee daily reduced their risk by 20 percent compared with those who drank either more or less coffee. These effects remained after researchers adjusted for other heart disease risk factors, such as smoking and exercise level.

Neither coffee or tea consumption appeared to affect the risk of dying from any other cause, including stroke or cancer.

The study did not include people already suffering from heart disease, so its results cannot be generalized to such high-risk populations.

“But for healthy people, it appears that drinking coffee and tea is not harmful and it may even offer some benefits,” van der Schouw said.

Part of the study’s significance lies in the fact that the most popular tea consumed in the Netherlands is black tea, while most prior studies have focused on the benefits of green tea.

“The perception has been that green tea is the ‘healthy’ tea, but this study suggests black tea may be just as good for the heart,” said nutrition professor Rachel K. Johnson of the University of Vermont. “That will be good news to people like me who are not big green tea lovers.”

Johnson is also an American Heart Association spokesperson.

In the United States, levels black tea consumption are significantly higher than green tea consumption.

Johnson notes that while the consumption levels found to be beneficial in the study might seem high, they are relatively easy to achieve.

“Iced tea is very popular in some parts of the country, especially in the summer,” she said. “Just make sure to go easy on the sugar. I would hate for people to get the message that they should be drinking more sugar-sweetened beverages.”

Scientists remain unsure why tea, and to a lesser extent coffee, appear to offer heart protective benefits. Research thus far has focused on a family of plant chemicals known as polyphenols, particularly the flavonoids. Studies on individual flavonoids and on other foods containing them (such as red grapes and wine, dark berries, red beans and dark chocolate) have confirmed their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other health-promoting benefits

Ellen Mason of the British Heart Foundation noted that while tea and coffee in moderation may provide some heart benefits, they cannot undo the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle.

“It’s worth remembering that leading a healthy overall lifestyle is the thing that really matters when it comes to keeping your heart in top condition,” she said. “Having a cigarette with your coffee could completely cancel any benefits, while drinking lots of tea in front of the TV for hours on end without exercising is unlikely to offer your heart much protection at all.”

Sources for this story include: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20100618/tea-coffee-drinkers-have-lower-heart-risk

If it is difficult to drink this much tea a few high quality pharmaceutical grade multivitamins, like the #1 rated product I use contains green tea extract so you can get your daily dose of the beneficial tea polyphenols.

Multivitamin use associated with lower heart attack risk in women

An article published online on September 22, 2010 in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports an association between multivitamin use and a reduced risk of myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack) in older women.
The current study included 2,262 women with a history of cardiovascular disease and 31,671 women with no history of the disease who participated in the Swedish Mammography Cohort established between 1987 and 1990. The participants completed a dietary questionnaire in 1997 which provided the Karolinska Institutet researchers with information concerning supplement use.
Over the 10.2 year average follow-up period, 269 heart attacks occurred among women who had cardiovascular disease, and 932 occurred in those with no history. Among women who had no history of the disease, those who reported using a multinutrient supplement had a 27 percent lower adjusted risk of heart attack than those who were not supplement users. Using a multivitamin along with other supplements was associated with a 30 percent lower risk, and use for at least five years was linked to a 41 percent lower risk of myocardial infarction compared to nonusers. Multivitamin use was not associated with a significant benefit in those with pre-existing disease.
Concerning the contradiction of the current study’s findings in light of other research which failed to uncover a benefit, the authors explain that ingredients and dosage of the components of multinutrient supplements vary, that some trials were conducted in subjects with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, and that the majority of trials had short follow-up periods. They attribute the vitamins’ protective benefit to their antioxidant properties, which retard atherosclerosis via free radical scavenging, and the ability of B vitamins to lower homocysteine levels. Minerals included in multinutrient supplements may also have cardioprotective effects, including the possibility of magnesium to inhibit insulin resistance, decrease vascular tone, and prevent pro-inflammatory changes and endothelial dysfunction, and the incorporation of selenium into protective antioxidant enzymes.
“We observed that multivitamin use is inversely associated with myocardial infarction among women with no history of cardiovascular disease,” the authors conclude. “Further studies are needed to confirm or refute our findings and, if confirmed, to clarify what composition of multivitamins (doses and ingredients included) and duration of use is needed to observe beneficial effects on MI.”
——————————
These are great results from using any multi-vitamin. I wonder what the results would have been if they had used a very high quality multivitamin with optimal levels of all the essential vitamins, minerals, micro-nutrients, trace elements, antioxidants, etc? Here in North America 95% of the supplements are of marginal or very low quality and potency.  There is a Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements which is published in Canada which analyzed over 1,500 different multivitamins available in North America. 

Green Tea May Protect against Heart Disease

The Department of Cardiology in Nanjing, China followed 520 patients who underwent coronary angiography for the first time. The men who drank green tea showed a significant decrease incidence of having coronary artery disease compared to those who did not drink green tea. Although this finding was not seen in women, it is encouraging that green tea may potentially decrease the risk of coronary artery disease at least in men. Further investigations are obviously needed.
If you can’t drink green tea every day then try the top rated nutritional supplement we recommend. They contain green tea extract so you receive the benefits of green tea daily.

New study questions effectiveness of popular cholesterol drugs

A widely prescribed and expensive cholesterol drug is not as effective as niacin, a cheap vitamin, in helping to unclog coronary arteries in people already taking statins, the standard medicines used to lower cholesterol, according to a new study.

The research, which appears Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine, is sending rumbles through the medical community because it is the third recent study to raise questions about the effectiveness of Zetia and its sister drug, Vytorin, highly profitable pharmaceuticals made by Merck & Co.

“This is the third strike,” said Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. “The studies are telling us that it doesn’t appear to produce benefits. This is a drug used by millions of Americans, a very big seller, in a health-care system where costs are a major issue. And the question has to be, is this the right approach?”

Vytorin and Zetia are among the most popular prescription drugs. Last year, physicians in the United States wrote a total of more than 29 million prescriptions for them, and worldwide sales totaled $4.56 billion, according to Merck.

Although the drugs have been shown to reduce cholesterol, there is no evidence that they prevent heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems.

Top Merck executives are vigorously defending their drugs and have dismissed the new research as limited.

“I don’t think a clinician or a doctor or a patient should use this as the basis for any decision-making whatsoever,” said Richard Pasternak, vice president of Merck research laboratories. “I worry that people might unnecessarily come off a drug that is approved and accepted.”

He and other critics said the study appearing Monday involved just 200 patients, was ended early, and examined what is known as a surrogate marker — the amount of plaque on artery walls — rather than evaluating the rate of heart attacks and stroke.

Because plaque can clog arteries and restrict blood flow to the heart and brain, cardiologists view plaque as a good indication for the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The study has been highly anticipated by the medical community and financial analysts, and is the buzz at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, which began Sunday in Orlando.

Introduced in 2002 and 2004 amid heavy direct-to-consumer marketing, Zetia and Vytorin became blockbusters for Merck and Schering-Plough, which had collaborated on their development. The companies recently merged.

But new research has placed the drugs under greater scrutiny and the number of written prescriptions has been slipping, although together they still represent big business for Merck.

Last year, a study released by Merck showed that Zetia did not reduce plaque in arteries compared with patients taking only statins, which are much less expensive and available in generic form. Although released in January, the study had been completed in 2006, prompting a class-action lawsuit alleging that Merck intentionally withheld unfavorable results of a clinical trial. The company paid $41.5 million in August to settle the claims.

Another study published last year showed a potential increase in cancer among patients taking Zetia and Vytorin, compared with those taking only statins.

Taken as a whole, the new research is unnerving, said Harlan Krumholz, a Yale University cardiologist. “The accumulating evidence isn’t giving you any confidence,” he said. “This is a very expensive drug being used without any strong evidence that it’s benefiting patients.” Zetia and Vytorin should be “drugs of last resort, if used at all,” Krumholz said. “And anyone who uses it should make sure patients are informed that they’re taking a gamble.”

Statins, such as Lipitor, have long been used to lower cholesterol and reduce cardiovascular disease. They inhibit the production of LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, often called “bad” cholesterol, which can lead to plaque buildup in arteries.

Zetia, the brand name for ezetimibe, uses a different mechanism. It blocks the absorption of cholesterol from food in the intestines. It has been shown by Merck to lower LDL by 18 percent on average. It is designed for patients who cannot tolerate statins, or for whom high-dose statins are not working.

Vytorin is Zetia combined with a statin, simvastatin, in one pill.

The study released Monday followed about 200 patients who were already taking statins. Some were also given Niaspan, a modified form of Vitamin B, or niacin. The rest took Zetia. Researchers took images of the artery leading to the brain to measure the thickness of the artery walls over 14 months.

The patients who took Niaspan had less plaque in their arteries and also had higher levels of high-density lipoprotein or HDL. Known as “good” cholesterol, HDL is believed to remove cholesterol from the arteries and carry it back to the liver, where it is passes from the body.

The patients who took Zetia had more plaque in their arteries but lower levels of LDL. They also had more heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems than the patients taking niacin. Merck President Peter Kim said the fact that Zetia lowers LDL cholesterol makes it valuable. “It’s very well established that lowering LDL saves lives,” he said.

Roger S. Blumenthal, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins, criticized the new study in an editorial also published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Blumenthal, who has been a paid speaker for Merck, noted that the new study was halted early, which meant results from 40 percent of the participants were not included in the final analysis.

The study’s author, Allen J. Taylor of Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Washington Hospital Center, said the trial ended early because the results were quickly apparent. “It couldn’t be more clear,” Taylor said. “It would have been unreasonable to continue the experiment because the trial had met its objective — niacin is superior to ezetimibe.”

Kim said any conclusions about Zetia and Vytorin should wait until Merck completes a large-scale clinical trial. It involves 15,000 patients and is not expected to yield results until at least 2012.

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Aerobic exercise no big stretch for older adults but helps elasticity of arteries

EDMONTON, Oct. 25, 2009 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) —

Just three months of physical activity reaps heart health benefits for older adults with type 2 diabetes by improving the elasticity in their arteries – reducing risk of heart disease and stroke, Dr. Kenneth Madden told the 2009 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

Dr. Madden studied adults between the ages of 65 to 83 with controlled Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol to see how increased activity might affect stiffness of the arteries.

“The theory is that aerobic activity makes your arteries less stiff and makes artery walls more elastic,” says Dr. Madden, a geriatric specialist at the University of British Columbia.

An improvement was seen in the elasticity of the arteries of the group that performed the activity compared to those who didn’t exercise. “There was an impressive drop in arterial stiffness after just three months of exercise. In that time we saw a 15 to 20 per cent reduction.”

The subjects were divided into two groups to either receive three months of vigorous physical activity (one hour, three times per week) or to get no aerobic exercise at all. Subjects were classified as sedentary at the beginning of the study but gradually increased their fitness levels until they were working at 70 per cent of their maximum heart rate, using treadmills and cycling machines. They were supervised by a certified exercise trainer.

Dr. Beth Abramson, spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, stresses the importance of lifestyle factors on heart health, especially with our aging population. “Almost everyone can benefit from active living,” she says. “The Foundation recommends that, like adults of any age, older adults – with the consent of their physicians – need 30 to 60 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week.”

Dr. Madden says that the exercise requirements may be viewed as controversial because of the age of the participants but the exercise level was safe and well tolerated. “There seems to be a knee-jerk reluctance to getting these older adults to exercise yet we used a vigorous level of activity and didn’t have any trouble keeping participants in our study. They enjoyed the activity,” Dr. Madden says. “People always underestimate what older adults can do.”

Dr. Madden notes that realistically, seniors need someone to help them get started. “We need to learn how to do it effectively and how to do it safely,” he says. “It could mean visiting your family doctor to find out about provincially funded programs, or joining programs for seniors that are offered at many local community centres.”

Dr. Abramson recommends that seniors choose activities they enjoy, such as walking, gardening, golfing, dancing, or joining a yoga or tai chi class. If weather is a barrier, she suggests climbing stairs at home, joining a mall-walking group, or strolling the halls of their apartment building or retirement residence.

In his next project, Dr. Madden wants to find out if there is a less expensive but equally effective way to reduce the stiffness of arteries in older adults. “Our first step was to prove that it was at all possible for older adults to have reduced narrowing in their arteries due to exercise,” he says. “Now we want to find out just how rigorous the levels of activity need to be to demonstrate the same results. The next step is to try studying a home-based walking program using pedometers. This is something easy for doctors to prescribe and cheap and easy for participants.”

The HeartWalk Workout, a special activity program developed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation to help people with cardiovascular problems get regular, healthy physical activity is available online at heartandstroke.ca. It helps people slowly build up exercise tolerance until they can walk at least 30 minutes, five times a week.

Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect Foundation or CCS policy or position. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society make no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation (heartandstroke.ca), a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

SOURCE: HEART AND STROKE FOUNDATION OF CANADA

Men – Follow these 10 habits and keep your heart healthy for life

The smartest plan for attacking a heart attack is, of course, preventing one from ever happening. Choose three of the following preventive strategies that you’re currently not doing. Make them a habit. The closer to the top of the list you get, the more you reduce your risk of heart disease.

1. Convince Your Wife to Stop Smoking
Nonsmoking husbands of smoking wives face a 92 percent increase in their risk of heart attack, according to a report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Breathing secondhand smoke boosts LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, decreases HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and increases your blood’s tendency to clot.

2. Walk, Run, or Lift Weights for 30 Minutes Four Times a Week
Middle-aged men who exercised vigorously for 2 or more hours cumulatively per week had 60 percent less risk of heart attack than inactive men did, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

3. Lose 10 to 20 Pounds
If you’re overweight, dropping 10 to 20 pounds could lower your risk of dying from a first heart attack by 16 percent. Being overweight drives up cholesterol and blood pressure, the precursors to coronary disease. A 10-year Mayo Clinic study found that overweight people had heart attacks 3.6 years earlier than normal-weight people did, and that obese heart-attack patients tended to be 8.2 years younger than normal-weight victims.

4. Drink Five Glasses of Water a Day
In a study at Loma Linda University, men who drank that many 8-ounce glasses we
re 54 percent less likely to have a fatal heart attack than those who drank two or fewer. Researchers say the water dilutes the blood, making it less likely to clot.

5. Switch from Coffee to Tea
A Dutch study found that people who drank 3 cups of tea a day had half the risk of heart attack of those who didn’t drink tea at all. Potent antioxidants, called flavonoids, in tea may provide a protective effect.

6. Grill Salmon on Saturday, Have a Tuna Sandwich on Tuesday
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say that eating fish at least twice a week can lower your heart-disease risk by more than 30 percent. The magic ingredient is the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. In another study, men without heart disease were 10 percent less likely to die suddenly when their blood levels of omega-3s were high.

7. Ask Your Doctor About Vitamin E and Aspirin
Men who took the antioxidant and the blood thinner daily cut the plaque in their clogged arteries by more than 80 percent, according to a recent University of Pennsylvania study.

8. Eat a Cup of Total Corn Flakes for Breakfast
This cereal contains one of the highest concentrations of folate (675 micrograms) of any cold cereal. Taking in that much folic acid daily (the recommended amount is 400 mcg) cuts your risk of cardiovascular disease by 13 percent, according to researchers at Tulane University. Folate works by reducing blood levels of artery-damaging homocysteine.

9. Count to 10
Creating a 10-second buffer before reacting to a stressful situation may be enough to cool you down. Men who respond to stress with anger are three times more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease and five times more likely to have a heart attack before turning 55, say researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

10. Eat Watermelon
It contains about 40 percent more lycopene than is found in raw tomatoes, and a new study by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service shows that your body absorbs it at higher levels due to the melon’s high water content. Half a wedge may boost heart-disease prevention by 30 percent.

Courtesy Men’s Health