Thursday, September 23, 2010

Can Fish Oil Really Prevent Heart Disease?

Omega-3 fatty acid is healthy for all from growing children to heart disease patients. This is the message conveyed to people for years by many health professionals and doctors. In recent years, omega-3 has even been added to some foods such as margarine and eggs.

However, Dutch researchers found in their study of about 5,000 heart attack survivors that eating about 400 milligrams of fish fatty acids per day did not significantly decrease the risk of getting heart attack, stroke, heart failure and other cardiovascular events for those patients who were already getting good care. 400 milligrams of fish fatty acids is the equivalent of 2 fatty fish meals.

At the end of 3 and half years, there was no change in death, heart attack and other heart problems between those who consumed margarine with added omega-3 fatty acids and those who did not.

The findings were presented by researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands during the month of August 2010 at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, and published online by the New England Journal Of Medicine.

Does the results mean that getting more of the fatty acid does not has any benefit? Of course NO!

As confirmed by several studies, omega-3 fish fatty acid (mostly from fish oil) help reduce heart disease. It would reduce the risk of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias) that can lead to sudden death, decrease triglyceride (harmful fats) levels, slow the growth of atherosclerotic plaque that could clog arteries, and lower blood pressure (slightly).

The reason that adding a low-dose of omega-3 fatty acid did not offer extra protection, as explained by the researchers, is that the participants were taken good care by their doctors: they were taking the best medicines to prevent future heart problem. Among the participants, about 98 percent were on anti-platelet treatments, 90 percent were taking blood pressure lowering agents and 85 percent were taking lipid-lowering agents.

As compared to those heart patients in earlier research who did benefit by taking fish oil pills, the participants in this study were also older (aged between 60 and 80) and took part in the study years after their heart attack.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Higher Vitamin-B Intake Could Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk!

In order to prevent heart disease and stroke (cardiovascular disease), people might need to consume more foods that contain folate and Vitamin-B6.

Folate, also known as Vitamin-Bg, is a water-soluble Vitamin-B that is contained naturally in food. The synthetic form of folate found in supplements is known as folic acid. Folate can be found in leafy vegetables (like spinach and turnip greens), fruits (like citrus fruits and juices), fortified cereals, and dried beans and peas. Vegetables, fish, liver, meats, whole grains, and fortified cereals are good sources of Vitamin-B6.

A group of researchers from Osaka University, who published their findings in Stroke (Journal of the American Heart Association), reported that eating more foods rich in folate and Vitamin-B6 could lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease for Japanese women and might cut the risk of heart failure in Japanese men.

The dietary consumption of Vitamin-B6 is generally considered low in Japan than in the United States but the findings were consistent with those studies conducted in Europe and North America.

As part of the large Japan Collaborative Cohort (JACC) Study, data collected through completed food frequency questionnaires from 23,119 men and 35,611 women, aged between 40 and 79, were analyzed. All the participants were followed for a period of 14 years and it was found that 986 died from stroke, 424 from heart disease and 2,087 from all diseases related to cardiovascular system.

Based on intake of folate, Vitamin-B6 and Vitamin-B12, the participants were divided into 5 groups. The researchers found that with higher intake of folate and Vitamin-B6, number of men died of heart failure was significantly lower, and number of women died from stroke, heart disease and total cardiovascular diseases was significantly fewer. However, people taking higher Vitamin-B12 were not associated with lower death risk.

According to the researchers, folate and Vitamin-B6 might reduce homocysteine levels in the body by breaking them down thus help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Homocysteine is an amino acid in the blood that is affected by diet and genetic factors. A high level of homocysteine might raise the risk of getting coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

How Is Intelligence Associated With Heart Disease?

Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women not only in the United States but also in Europe and most industrialized countries. The data collected by the World Health Organization showed that cardiovascular disease (includes heart disease and stroke) and diabetes accounted for 32 percent of all death around the world in 2005.

Diabetes together with high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity are some of the known risk factors for heart disease. Interestingly, researchers from Britain's Medical Research Council (MRC) and Social and Public Health Science Unit in Glasgow, Scotland, recently declared intelligence as a predictor of heart disease.

Published in the February 2010 issue of the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, the findings of a study derived from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study indicated that lower intelligence quotient (IQ) scores were associated with higher likelihood of getting heart disease and death, and IQ scores were ranked second among other indicators of heart disease after smoking. The top 5 heart disease risk factors identified in the study were cigarette smoking, IQ, low income, high blood pressure and low physical activity.

The study analyzed data collected in 1987 of 1,145 men and women who aged around 55 and were followed up for 20 years. The data collected including height, weight, blood pressure, smoking habits, physical activity, education and occupation, cognitive ability (IQ). The IQ scores were assessed using a standard test of general intelligence.

From the point of view of researchers, there are a number of possible reasons that could explain why lower IQ scores could raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. For instance, a person's approach to healthy behavior (like smoking or exercise) and its correlates (includes obesity, blood pressure) do have something to do with his or her intelligence.

Based on the results of the study, the researchers suggested that health promotion campaigns should be planned with consideration of individual cognition ability (IQ).