Systolic, diastolic blood pressures predict risk of different cardiovascular diseases

Date: May 30, 2014

Source: The Lancet

Summary:

Raised systolic and diastolic blood pressures may have different effects on different types of cardiovascular diseases and at different ages, according to new research involving 1.25 million patients from primary care practices. The new findings suggest that individuals with higher systolic blood pressures have a greater risk of intracerebral haemorrhage (stroke caused by bleeding within the brain tissue), subarachnoid haemorrhage (the deadliest form of stroke), and stable angina, whereas raised diastolic blood pressure is a better indicator of abdominal aortic aneurysm risk.

Raised systolic and diastolic blood pressures may have different effects on different types of cardiovascular diseases and at different ages, according to new research involving 1.25 million patients from primary care practices in England published in a special themed issue of The Lancet. The issue is published ahead of ahead of Hypertension 2014, the Joint Meeting of the European Society of Hypertension (ESH) and International Society of Hypertension (ISH), to be held in Athens, Greece, June 13-16, 2014.

The new findings suggest that individuals with higher systolic blood pressures have a greater risk of intracerebral haemorrhage (stroke caused by bleeding within the brain tissue), subarachnoid haemorrhage (the deadliest form of stroke), and stable angina, whereas raised diastolic blood pressure is a better indicator of abdominal aortic aneurysm risk.

“Our findings do not support the widely held assumptions that systolic and diastolic pressure have similar strong associations with the occurrence of all cardiovascular diseases across a wide age range,” explains lead investigator Dr Eleni Rapsomaniki from The Farr Institute for Health Informatics Research, London, UK.

The study is the first to explore the effects of blood pressure on the risk of 12 different cardiovascular conditions in various age groups as a first presentation of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers examined blood pressure data using the electronic health records of 1.25 million patients without cardiovascular disease, aged 30 years and older, who were followed for a median 5.2 years to record the first cardiovascular event. They also calculated the lifetime risks of developing specific cardiovascular diseases linked with high blood pressure at age 30 through to 80 years of age.

The findings show that despite modern therapy, the lifetime burden of hypertension remains substantial. For example, in a 30 year old with hypertension (blood pressure ≥140/90 mm Hg), the lifetime risk of developing cardiovascular disease was 63% compared with 46% in an individual with healthy blood pressure, and they developed cardiovascular disease 5 years earlier. Stable and unstable angina accounted for almost half of the loss of time free from cardiovascular disease at this age, whereas heart failure contributed to nearly a fifth of the years lost in individuals 80 years and older.

According to Dr Rapsomaniki, “With lifetime risks this high, the need for new blood pressure lowering strategies is paramount. Our estimates provide vital new information that can be used to improve patient counselling and decision making for people with hypertension, which are currently based mainly on the risks of heart attack and stroke, and will help to focus guidelines and doctors to the cardiovascular conditions that might be more common and in which screening and treatments are more likely to have an effect.”

Writing in a linked Comment, Professor Thomas Kahan from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden says, “Although the efficacy of antihypertensive drug therapy is undisputed, observational studies suggest that few patients reach target blood pressure. Several steps therefore need to be taken to improve antihypertensive treatment and control: the assessment of global cardiovascular risk in individual patients; improving caregiver organisation, support, and education; increasing drug compliance and treatment persistence to prescribed treatment; expanding the use of home blood pressure monitoring and 24 h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring; considering secondary forms of hypertension in difficult-to-treat patients; and referring patients with remaining uncontrolled hypertension to a specialist hypertension centre.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Lancet. Date: May 30, 2014

‘Virtual human’ shows that stiff arteries can explain cause of high blood pressure

Date: May 27, 2014

Source: Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Summary:

High blood pressure is highly age-related and affects more than one billion people worldwide. But doctors can’t fully explain the cause of 90 per cent of all cases. A computer model of a ‘virtual human’ suggests that stiff arteries alone are enough to cause high blood pressure.

“The only way to reverse stiff arteries is to have good fats and an anti inflammatory diet. This reduces your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease,” say Rachna Chhachhi.

High blood pressure is highly age-related and affects more than 1 billion people worldwide. But doctors can’t fully explain the cause of 90 per cent of all cases. A computer model of a “virtual human” suggests that stiff arteries alone are enough to cause high blood pressure.

“Our results suggest that arterial stiffness represents a major therapeutic target. This is contrary to existing models, which typically explain high blood pressure in terms of defective kidney function,” says Klas Pettersen, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and first author of the study, recently published in PLOS Computational Biology.

High blood pressure is a major source of morbidity and mortality, because it makes individuals more prone to heart failure, stroke and kidney disease.

When blood pressure travels down the aorta from the heart, a special group of cells in the aortic wall, called baroreceptors, sense the pressure in this stretch of the aortic wall and send signals with this information to the nervous system.

If the blood pressure is too high, these cells send stronger signals and the body is able to lower blood pressure. However, if the aorta gets stiffer, as typically happens with age, this stretch of the aorta is not as sensitive as it once was in measuring blood pressure. Thus, although a person’s blood pressure may have increased, the baroreceptors do not signal as intensively as they should and the body does not get the message to lower blood pressure.

“With the stiffening of the wall that follows aging, these sensors become less able to send signals that reflect the actual blood pressure. Our mathematical model predicts the quantitative effects of this process on blood pressure,” says Pettersen.

“If our hypothesis is proven right, arterial stiffness and baroreceptor signaling will become hotspot targets for the treatment of high blood pressure and the development of new medicines and medical devices,” says Stig W. Omholt from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who was the senior investigator of the research project.

With the use of existing experimental data and models of the aging human aorta, the researchers were able to show quantitatively how the stiffening of the aorta with age causes the baroreceptors to misinform the central nervous system about blood pressure, thus preventing the system from downregulating blood pressure. The model predictions were compared with data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT2), which is composed of information on the health history of 74,000 people, including blood sample collection from 65,000 people.

NTNU’s Omholt says that the study is a good example of how very complex human disease can be understood by use of mathematical models and thus allow for much better treatment strategies.

“If we are to succeed in developing predictive, preventive and participatory medicine envisioned by so many, there is no substitute for building much stronger transdisciplinary ties between the life sciences, the mathematical sciences and engineering across the whole spectrum of basic, translational and applied research. And mathematical models of the human physiology will be at the core of this development,” he says.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Date: May 27, 2014

Omega-3 fatty acids: The Miracle Good Fat

Overview

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: They are necessary for human health but the body can’t make them — you have to get them through food. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other seafood including algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. They have also become popular because they may reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) at least 2 times a week.

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.

It is important to have the proper ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) in the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and most omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 – 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, which many nutritionally oriented physicians consider to be way too high on the omega-6 side.

The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, has a healthier balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Many studies have shown that people who follow this diet are less likely to develop heart disease. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, garlic, as well as moderate wine consumption.

Uses

Clinical evidence is strongest for heart disease and problems that contribute to heart disease, but omega-3 fatty acids may also be used for:

High cholesterol

People who follow a Mediterranean style diet tend to have higher HDL or “good” cholesterol levels, which help promote heart health. Inuit Eskimos, who get high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from eating fatty fish, also tend to have increased HDL cholesterol and decreased triglycerides (fats in the blood). Several studies have shown that fish oil supplements reduce triglyceride levels. Finally, walnuts (which are rich in alpha linolenic acid or ANA, which converts to omega-3s in the body) have been reported to lower total cholesterol and triglycerides in people with high cholesterol levels.

High blood pressure

Several clinical studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. An analysis of 17 clinical studies using fish oil supplements found that taking 3 or more grams of fish oil daily may reduce blood pressure in people with untreated hypertension. Doses this high, however, should only be taken under the direction of a physician.

Heart disease

The role of omega-3 fatty acids in cardiovascular disease is well established. One of the best ways to help prevent heart disease is to eat a diet low in saturated fat and to eat foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3 fatty acids). Clinical evidence suggests that EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, the 2 omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil) help reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Fish oil has been shown to lower levels of triglycerides (fats in the blood), and to lower the risk of death, heart attack, stroke, and abnormal heart rhythms in people who have already had a heart attack. Fish oil also appears to help prevent and treat atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) by slowing the development of plaque and blood clots, which can clog arteries.

Large population studies suggest that getting omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, primarily from fish, helps protect against stroke caused by plaque buildup and blood clots in the arteries that lead to the brain. Eating at least 2 servings of fish per week can reduce the risk of stroke by as much as 50%. However, high doses of fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids may increase the risk of bleeding. People who eat more than 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day (equivalent to 3 servings of fish per day) may have higher risk for hemorrhagic stroke, a potentially fatal type of stroke in which an artery in the brain leaks or ruptures.

Diabetes

People with diabetes often have high triglyceride and low HDL levels. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can help lower triglycerides and apoproteins (markers of diabetes), and raise HDL, so eating foods or taking fish oil supplements may help people with diabetes. Another type of omega-3 fatty acid, ALA (from flaxseed, for example) may not have the same benefit as fish oil. Some people with diabetes can’t efficiently convert ANA to a form of omega-3 fatty acids that the body can use. Also, some people with type 2 diabetes may have slight increases in fasting blood sugar when taking fish oil, so talk to your doctor to see if fish oil is right for you.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Most clinical studies examining omega-3 fatty acid supplements for arthritis have focused on rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints. A number of small studies have found that fish oil helps reduce symptoms of RA, including joint pain and morning stiffness. One study suggests that people with RA who take fish oil may be able to lower their dose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, unlike prescription medications, fish oil does not appear to slow progression of RA, only to treat the symptoms. Joint damage still occurs.

Laboratory studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids (and low in the inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids) may help people with osteoarthritis, although more study is needed. New Zealand green lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus), another potential source of omega-3 fatty acids, has been reported to reduce joint stiffness and pain, increase grip strength, and improve walking pace in a small group of people with osteoarthritis. For some people, symptoms got worse before they improved.

An analysis of 17 randomized, controlled clinical trials looked at the pain relieving effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplements in people with RA or joint pain caused by inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) and painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea). The results suggest that omega-3 fatty acids, along with conventional therapies such as NSAIDs, may help relieve joint pain associated with these conditions.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

Several small studies suggest that EPA and fish oil may help reduce symptoms of lupus, an autoimmune condition characterized by fatigue and joint pain. However, 2 small studies found fish oil had no effect on lupus nephritis (kidney disease caused by lupus, a frequent complication of the disease).

Osteoporosis

Some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may help increase levels of calcium in the body and improve bone strength, although not all results were positive. Some studies also suggest that people who don’t get enough of some essential fatty acids (particularly EPA and gamma-linolenic acid [GLA], an omega-6 fatty acid) are more likely to have bone loss than those with normal levels of these fatty acids. In a study of women over 65 with osteoporosis, those who took EPA and GLA supplements had less bone loss over 3 years than those who took placebo. Many of these women also experienced an increase in bone density.

Depression

Studies have found mixed results as to whether taking omega-3 fatty acids can help depression symptoms. Several studies have found that people who took omega-3 fatty acids in addition to prescription antidepressants had a greater improvement in symptoms than those who took antidepressants alone. Other studies show that omega-3 fatty acid intake helps protect against postpartom depression, among other benefits. However, other studies have found no benefit.

Studies are also mixed on whether omega-3 fatty acids alone have any effect on depression. Depression is a serious illness and you should not try to treat it on your own. See a doctor for help.

Bipolar disorder

In a clinical study of 30 people with bipolar disorder, those who took fish oil in addition to standard prescription treatments for bipolar disorder for 4 months experienced fewer mood swings and relapse than those who received placebo. But another 4 month long clinical study treating people with bipolar depression and rapid cycling bipolar disorder did not find that EPA helped reduce symptoms.

Schizophrenia

Preliminary clinical evidence suggests that people with schizophrenia may have an improvement in symptoms when given omega-3 fatty acids. However, a recent well designed study concluded that EPA supplements are no better than placebo in improving symptoms of this condition.

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have low levels of certain essential fatty acids (including EPA and DHA). In a clinical study of nearly 100 boys, those with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids had more learning and behavioral problems (such as temper tantrums and sleep disturbances) than boys with normal omega-3 fatty acid levels.

However, studies examining whether omega-3 fatty acids help improve symptoms of ADHD have found mixed results. A few studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids helped improve behavioral symptoms, but most were not well designed. One study that looked at DHA in addition to stimulant therapy (standard therapy for ADHD) found no effect. More research is needed, but eating foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids is a reasonable approach for someone with ADHD.

Cognitive decline

A number of studies show that reduced intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with increased risk of age related cognitive decline or dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists believe the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is protective against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Skin disorders

In one clinical study, 13 people with sun sensitivity known as photo dermatitis showed less sensitivity to UV rays after taking fish oil supplements. However, topical sunscreens are much better at protecting the skin from damaging effects of the sun than omega-3 fatty acids. In another study of 40 people with psoriasis, those who took EPA with their prescription medications did better than those treated with the medications alone. However, a larger study of people with psoriasis found no benefit from fish oil.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Results are mixed as to whether omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the 2 types of IBD. Some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may help when added to medication, such as sulfasalazine (a standard medication for IBD). Others find no effect. More studies are needed. Fish oil supplements can cause side effects that are similar to symptoms of IBD (such as flatulence, belching, bloating, and diarrhea).

Asthma

Studies examining omega-3 fatty acids for asthma are mixed. In one small, well designed clinical study of 29 children with asthma, those who took fish oil supplements rich in EPA and DHA for 10 months reduced their symptoms compared to children who took placebo. However, most studies have shown no effect.

Macular Degeneration

A questionnaire given to more than 3,000 people over the age of 49 found that those who ate more fish were less likely to have macular degeneration (a serious age related eye condition that can progress to blindness) than those who ate less fish. Similarly, a clinical study comparing 350 people with macular degeneration to 500 without the eye disease found that those with a healthy dietary balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and more fish in their diets were less likely to have macular degeneration.

Menstrual pain

In one study of 42 women, they had less menstrual pain when they took fish oil supplements than when they took placebo.

Coloncancer

Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids seems to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. For example, Eskimos, who tend to have a high fat diet, but eat significant amounts of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, have a low rate of colorectal cancer. Animal studies and laboratory studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids prevent worsening of colon cancer. Preliminary studies suggest that taking fish oil daily may help slow the progression of colon cancer in people with early stages of the disease. If you have colorectal cancer, ask your doctor before taking any supplements.

Breast cancer

Although not all experts agree, women who eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids over many years may be less likely to develop breast cancer. More research is needed to understand the effect that omega-3 fatty acids may have on the prevention of breast cancer.

Prostate cancer

Population based studies of groups of men suggest that a low fat diet including omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil help prevent the development of prostate cancer.

Dietary Sources

Fish, plant, and nut oils are the primary dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are found in cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, tuna, and herring. ALA is found in flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, canola (rapeseed) oil, soybeans, soybean oil, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, purslane, perilla seed oil, walnuts, and walnut oil. The health effects of omega-3 fatty acids come mostly from EPA and DHA. ALA from flax and other vegetarian sources needs to be converted in the body to EPA and DHA. Many people do not make these conversions very effectively, however. This remains an ongoing debate in the nutrition community; fish and sea vegetable sources of EPA and DHA versus vegetarian sources of ALA. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include sea life such as krill and algae.

Available Forms

Both EPA and DHA can be taken in the form of fish oil capsules. Flaxseed, flaxseed oil, fish, and krill oils should be kept refrigerated. Whole flaxseeds must be ground within 24 hours of use, so the ingredients stay active. Flaxseeds are also available in ground form in a special mylar package so the components in the flaxseeds stay active.

Be sure to buy omega-3 fatty acid supplements made by established companies who certify that their products are free of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium.

How to Take It

Dosing for fish oil supplements should be based on the amount of EPA and DHA, not on the total amount of fish oil. Supplements vary in the amounts and ratios of EPA and DHA. A common amount of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil capsules is 0.18 grams (180 mg) of EPA and 0.12 grams (120 mg) of DHA. Different types of fish contain variable amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, and different types of nuts or oil contain variable amounts of ALA. Fish oils contain approximately 9 calories per gram of oil.

Children (18 years and younger)

There is no established dose for children. Omega-3 fatty acids are used in some infant formulas. Fish oil capsules should not be used in children except under the direction of a health care provider. Children should avoid eating fish that may be high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. (See Precautions section.)

Adults

Do not take more than 3 grams daily of omega-3 fatty acids from capsules without the supervision of a health care provider, due to an increased risk of bleeding.

For healthy adults with no history of heart disease: The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fish at least 2 times per week.

For adults with coronary heart disease: The AHA recommends an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (as fish oils), 1 gram daily of EPA and DHA. It may take 2 – 3 weeks for benefits of fish oil supplements to be seen. Supplements should be taken under the direction of a physician.

For adults with high cholesterol levels: The AHA recommends an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (as fish oils), 2 – 4 grams daily of EPA and DHA. It may take 2 – 3 weeks for benefits of fish oil supplements to be seen. Supplements should be taken under the direction of a physician.

For adults with high blood pressure, scientists generally recommend 3 – 4 grams per day, but you should only take under the supervision of a health care provider.

Precautions

Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should only take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.

Omega-3 fatty acids should be used cautiously by people who bruise easily, have a bleeding disorder, or take blood thinning medications including warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin. High doses of omega-3 fatty acids may increase the risk of bleeding, even in people without a history of bleeding disorders — and even in those who are not taking other medications.

Fish oil can cause gas, bloating, belching, and diarrhea. Time release preparations may reduce these side effects, however.

People with either diabetes or schizophrenia may lack the ability to convert alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the forms more readily used in the body. People with these conditions should be sure to get enough EPA and DHA from their diets. Also, people with type 2 diabetes may experience increases in fasting blood sugar levels while taking fish oil supplements. If you have type 2 diabetes, use fish oil supplements only under the supervision of a health care provider.

Although studies suggest that eating fish (which includes the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA) may reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a recent study including 2 large groups of men and women found that diets rich in ALA may increase the risk of this disease. Until more information becomes available, people with macular degeneration should get omega-3 fatty acids from sources of EPA and DHA, rather than ALA.

Fish and fish oil may protect against prostate cancer, but some suggest that ALA may be associated with increased risk of prostate cancer in men. More research in this area is needed.

Some fish may contain potentially harmful contaminants, such as heavy metals (including mercury), dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). For sport caught fish, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that pregnant or nursing women eat no more than a single 6 ounce meal per week, and young children less than 2 ounces per week. For farm raised, imported, or marine fish, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that pregnant or nursing women and young children avoid eating types with higher levels of mercury (such as mackerel, shark, swordfish, or tilefish), and eat up to 12 ounces per week of other fish types.

Buy fish oil from a reputable source that tests to make sure there is no mercury or pesticide residues in its products.

Possible Interactions

If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use omega-3 fatty acid supplements, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), without first talking to your health care provider.

Blood thinning medications — Omega-3 fatty acids may increase the effects of blood thinning medications, including aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and clopedigrel (Plavix). Taking aspirin and omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in some circumstances (such as in heart disease), but they should only be taken together under the supervision of a health care provider.

Diabetes medications — Taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements may increase fasting blood sugar levels. Use with caution if taking medications to lower blood sugar, such as glipizide (Glucotrol and Glucotrol XL), glyburide (Micronase or Diabeta), glucophage (Metformin), or insulin. Your doctor may need to increase your medication dose. These drugs include:

Glipizide (Glucotrol and Glucotrol XL)

Glyburide (Micronase or Diabeta)

Metformin (Glucophage)

Insulin

Cyclosporine — Cyclosporine is a medication given to people with organ transplants. Taking omega-3 fatty acids during cyclosporine (Sandimmune) therapy may reduce toxic side effects, such as high blood pressure and kidney damage, associated with this medication.

Etretinate and topical steroids — Adding omega-3 fatty acids (specifically EPA) to the drug therapy etretinate (Tegison) and topical corticosteroids may improve symptoms of psoriasis.

Cholesterol-lowering medications — Following dietary guidelines, including increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet and reducing the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, may help a group of cholesterol lowering medications known as statins to work more effectively. These medications include:

Atorvastatin (Liptor)

Lovastatin (Mevacor)

Simvastatin (Zocor)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — In an animal study, treatment with omega-3 fatty acids reduced the risk of ulcers from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) and naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn). More research is needed to see whether omega-3 fatty acids would have the same effects in people.

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Have you finalised your New Year Resolutions yet?

 

Here are my top 5 for good health:

  1. Eat 20% less than your hunger: It keeps you youthful by switching on your anti-ageing gene!
  2. Eat Vitamin B & C after breakfast: It keeps stress levels down
  3. Do pranayam: It releases toxins and keeps people wondering what you’re smiling about since it keeps you calm 😉 
  4. Make a list of what you’ve wanted to do: And fulfill at least one. It could be learning an instrument, visiting a place, breaking the ice with a loved one you’ve fought with… That one tick will give you tremendous happiness
  5. Do something for someone: The joy of giving can never be underestimated. It could just mean being nice to your colleagues or staff (home staff included), donating to a charity, spending your birthday with cancer surviovors, giving away your old clothes to an orphanage… whatever works for you.

All the above will give you complete physical and emotional peace, and help you sleep better. Now, if you sleep better, you’re already working towards a healthy heart, beautiful skin, hormones being placated… isn’t that a great way to start 2015?

Happy New Year!

More than 10 percent of heart attack patients may have undiagnosed diabetes

Date: June 3, 2014

Source: American Heart Association

Summary:

At least ten percent of people who have a heart attack may also have undiagnosed diabetes. Less than a third of those diagnosed with diabetes during their hospitalization received diabetes education or medications at discharge. Diabetes, which causes blood sugar to reach dangerous levels, significantly raises the risk for heart attack. Two out of three people with diabetes die from cardiovascular disease.

Atleast 10 percent of people who have a heart attack may have undiagnosed diabetes, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2014.

Researchers studied data on 2,854 heart attack patients who did not have a known diagnosis of diabetes in 24 U.S. hospitals to understand the prevalence and recognition of undiagnosed diabetes. They tested the patients’ A1C levels, which is a standard test to determine blood sugar levels for the past 2-3 months.

Researchers found:

Among the patients, 287 (10.1 percent) were newly diagnosed with diabetes based on the A1C test during their treatment for heart attack.

Less than a third of the 287 patients received diabetes education or medication upon discharge from the hospital.

Doctors failed to recognize diabetes in 198 (69 percent) of the previously undiagnosed patients. They were 17 times more likely to recognize patients’ diabetes if they checked the A1C test results during the heart attack, and even more likely the higher the test levels.

Six months after discharge, less than 7 percent of those who weren’t recognized as having diabetes during their hospital stay had started medication for the disease, compared to 71 percent of those whose diagnosis was recognized.

Diabetes, which causes blood sugar to reach dangerous levels, significantly raises the risk for heart attack. Two out of three people with diabetes die from cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association statistics.

“Diagnosing diabetes in patients who have had a heart attack is important because of the role diabetes plays in heart disease,” said Suzanne V. Arnold, M.D., M.H.A., the study’s lead author and assistant professor at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute and the University of Missouri at Kansas City. “By recognizing and treating diabetes early, we may be able to prevent additional cardiovascular complications through diet, weight loss and lifestyle changes in addition to taking medications. Another important reason to diagnose diabetes at the time of heart attack is that it can guide the treatments for the patient’s coronary artery disease.”

People who have a heart attack should ask for a diabetes test if they have a family history of the disease or other risk factors such as overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure. Those already diagnosed with diabetes should also ask for more information on the disease and how to manage it.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Date: June 3, 2014

Lifestyle interventions are better than genetic tests for preventing type 2 diabetes

Date: May 20, 2014

Source: PLOS

Summary:

Targeted interventions based on genetic risk may not be the best approach for preventing type 2 diabetes and instead universal strategies to prevent obesity should be prioritized, according to new research.

Targeted interventions based on genetic risk may not be the best approach for preventing type 2 diabetes and instead universal strategies to prevent obesity should be prioritized, according to new research published in this week’s PLOS Medicine. This analysis, led by Claudia Langenberg from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, UK, suggests that the contribution of genetics to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is greatest in those who are younger and leaner. However, in this group, the absolute risk of developing type 2 diabetes is low and the number of people who would have to be screened in order to guide targeted prevention would be impractically large.

Diabetes is currently estimated to affect more than 380 million people and the epidemic is likely to increase to 592 million by 2035. Type 2 diabetes is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors, such as overweight and physically inactivity. While progress has been made in understanding the genetic basis of type 2 diabetes, the details of how adverse lifestyles combine with genetic risk to determine risk of developing type 2 diabetes are uncertain.

The authors quantified the association of genetic and lifestyle factors with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in a large cohort of 340,234 people in 8 European countries followed for 11.7 years. In this EPIC-InterAct study, 12,403 people developed type 2 diabetes. The researchers identified an individual’s genetic risk by determining how many of a list of 49 known type 2 diabetes genetic variants each study participant carried. They then assessed how this genetic risk contributed to each individual’s overall risk of developing type 2 diabetes after several risk factors (such as age, waist circumference, physical activity and Mediterranean diet) were taken into account.

They found that the relative increase in risk of type 2 diabetes for each additional adverse gene carried was greatest in participants who were younger and thinner at baseline. However, risk of developing type 2 diabetes was highest in people who were obese, whatever their level of genetic risk for diabetes. The 10-year cumulative incidence of type 2 diabetes was substantially greater for those with the lowest genetic risk who were overweight (1.29%) or obese (4.22%) compared to normal weight individuals with the highest genetic risk (0.89%).

Professor Nick Wareham, who led the EPIC-InterAct study said “this is the largest study to date examining the impact of genetic susceptibility and lifestyle factors on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.” He added that, “the high absolute risk associated with obesity at any level of genetic risk highlights the importance of population-wide, rather than genetically targeted, approaches to promoting healthy lifestyles that minimise excess weight.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by PLOS. Date: May 20, 2014

Connection between oxygen, diabetes

Date: June 5, 2014

Source: University of California, San Diego Health Sciences

Summary:

The sequence of early cellular responses to a high-fat diet, one that can result in obesity-induced insulin resistance and diabetes, has been described by researchers for the first time, researchers. The findings also suggest potential molecular targets for preventing or reversing the process.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have, for the first time, described the sequence of early cellular responses to a high-fat diet, one that can result in obesity-induced insulin resistance and diabetes. The findings, published in the June 5 issue of Cell, also suggest potential molecular targets for preventing or reversing the process.

“We’ve described the etiology of obesity-related diabetes. We’ve pinpointed the steps, the way the whole thing happens,” said Jerrold M. Olefsky, MD, associate dean for Scientific Affairs and Distinguished Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego. “The research is in mice, but the evidence suggests that the processes are comparable in humans and these findings are important to not just understanding how diabetes begins, but how better to treat and prevent it.”

The best way to oxygenate? Start breathing exercises to control diabetes.

More than 65 million Indians have diabetes. Diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels poorly regulated by either inadequate insulin production or because cells to not respond properly to the regulating hormone. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and a major risk factor for other life-threatening conditions, including heart disease and stroke.

Past research by Olefsky and others has shown that obesity is characterized by low-grade inflammation in adipose or fat tissues and that this inflammatory state can become chronic and result in systemic insulin resistance and diabetes. In today’s Cell paper, the scientists describe the earliest stages of the process, which begins even before obesity becomes manifest.

First authorYun Sok Lee, PhD, a project scientist in Olefsky’s lab, and colleagues fed mice a high-fat diet. They observed that the abundant saturated fatty acids in the diet activated adenine nucleotide translocase 2 (ANT2), a mitochondrial protein in fat cell membranes that is involved in cellular energy metabolism.

Activation of ANT2 caused increased oxygen consumption, which meant less was available for the rest of the cell. The result was a relative state of hypoxia or inadequate oxygen supply, one that subsequently induced production of a protective transcription factor in fat cells called HIF-1alpha. In turn, HIF-1alpha triggered release of chemokines, proteins that signal cellular distress, launching the immune system’s inflammatory response. A sustained high-fat diet ensured that the process continued unabated, leading to obesity, chronic low-grade tissue inflammation and eventually, insulin resistance in the mice.

The elucidation of this sequence also revealed two potential therapeutic targets: ANT2 and HIF-1alpha. The researchers suggest that inhibiting either could blunt, or even reverse, the damaging cellular sequence. Indeed, they found that mice genetically engineered to lack HIF-1alpha in their adipocytes were protected from high-fat diet-induced inflammation, insulin resistance and elevated glucose levels.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California, San Diego Health Sciences. Date: June 5, 2014

Heart health: Coating stents with vitamin C could reduce clotting risks

Date: May 28, 2014

Source:  American Chemical Society

Summary:

Every year, more than one million people in the US who have suffered heart attacks or chest pain from blocked arteries have little mesh tubes called stents inserted into their blood vessels to prop them open. The procedure has saved many lives, but it still has potentially deadly downsides. Now scientists are reporting that coating stents with vitamin C could lower the implants’ risks even further.

Every year, more than 1 million people in the U.S. who have suffered heart attacks or chest pain from blocked arteries have little mesh tubes called stents inserted into their blood vessels to prop them open. The procedure has saved many lives, but it still has potentially deadly downsides. Now scientists are reporting in the ACS journal Langmuir that coating stents with vitamin C could lower the implants’ risks even further.

Eagappanath Thiruppathi and Gopinath Mani note that today’s stents have come a long way since their first introduction. Today, they come coated with pharmaceuticals that can prevent the affected arteries from reclogging. The problem is that about 10,000 to 50,000 people who receive these drug-eluting stents develop something called “late stent thrombosis” (LST), a potentially fatal complication that happens when clots form and re-block the arteries. Although the drugs on the stents are helpful in most cases, they might be responsible for causing problems in others. The compounds prevent the growth of smooth muscle cells that can clog the affected area, but they can also prevent the growth of helpful endothelial cells that, in addition to the drugs, are critical to preventing LST. Thiruppathi and Mani set out to find a way to address this problem.

Previous research has shown that vitamin C could be a good alternative or addition to the drugs currently used to coat stents. The essential nutrient inhibits smooth muscle cells and encourages endothelial cells — just the traits the scientists were looking for. So they figured out a way to successfully coat a common stent material with vitamin C so that it would release the nutrient slowly over time. They concluded that this technique could be useful for making stents and other implantable medical devices safer.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Date: May 28, 2014

Taking prescribed anti-clotting drug may help save stent patients’ lives

Date: May 28, 2014

Source: American Heart Association

Summary:

Thirty percent of patients who had just received a stent failed to fill their prescription for an anti-clotting drug within three days of hospital discharge. The risk of heart attack and death is highest for stent patients within the first 30 days for those who delay taking their medication.

you’ve just received a coronary artery stent to prop open a blood vessel, your life may depend on filling your prescription and taking an anti-clotting drug within days of leaving the hospital, according to a large study in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The risk of heart attack and death is highest within the first 30 days for those who delay taking their medication than during long-term follow-up out to two years.

Taking the drug clopidogrel plus aspirin is advised for a month in people who have a bare metal stent implanted, and six to 12 months in patients who get a drug-eluting stent.

“It is very important that patients take clopidogrel after having a coronary stent implanted to prevent blood clots forming within the stent,” said Nicholas Cruden, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., lead author and a consultant cardiologist at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. “In a worst-case scenario, the stent can block, resulting in a heart attack or even death.”

The new study is based on records for 15,629 people in British Columbia who received either type of stent in 2004-06. About 30 percent of the patients failed to fill a clopidogrel prescription within three days of leaving the hospital.

Compared to patients who filled their prescriptions promptly, those who delayed were about:

  • three times as likely to have a heart attack within a month;
  • five times as likely to die of any cause within a month; and
  • twice as likely to have a heart attack or to die of any cause within two years.

“This study highlights the importance of ensuring patients have access to medications as soon as they leave the hospital,” Cruden said. “Even a delay of a day or two was associated with worse outcomes.”

Discharging patients from the hospital with enough medicine for the highest-risk period — the first month or so — could help, he said.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Date: May 28, 2014

Why

laptop-beach-750x380Many years ago, I suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, which changed the course of my life. Having been through the debilitating effects of pain and chemo drugs, quitting medication, curing myself and getting certified as a Nutritional Therapist, some say I’ve come a long way. But when I look around me, the disease suffering and commercialisation of doctors & hospitals baffles me. Doctors are amazing when it comes to emergency life saving, but some seem to have strayed into believing their word is God, while others compassionately heal holistically, one such example being Dr Dean Ornish, whose books were also part of my course when I was studying nutritional therapy, and I do know that when doctors study Cardiology, Dr Ornish’s heart disease reversal via diet and lifestyle changes only, is a main paper. There is so much proven clinical data and so many inspirational stories around the world which prove that there are healthier ways without the suffering, and popping pills that suppress but don’t cure, cause side effects but kill immunity, aren’t the real answers towards healing.

And hence, this website. Over here, you can expect research, facts and true accounts of doctors, clinical researches and people who were bold enough to follow, and got better. It’s your space to understand there is a better way, so that the fear of death and the threats of hospitals and doctors don’t make you succumb to treatments that can leave your quality of life compromised. Do your research well via facts you can state, which cannot be refuted, and the medical professionals will be pushed to unlearn and re-learn. Like Thomas Edition said,  “The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

Till that happens, you have to help yourself. So start here.

— Rachna Chhachhi

Nutritional Therapist

WHO Certified in Malnutrition

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