The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that heart disease continues to rank as the leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year – equating to roughly 1 in every 4 deaths. As well, nearly half of all Americans (49%) have at least one of the three primary risk factors for heart disease – namely, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, or smoking. Excess weight is positioned as a leading additional factor in a person’s risk of heart disease.
[“Heart Disease,” US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/index.htm; accessed 27 Jan. 2014.]
You can help prevent heart disease by making healthy choices and managing any medical conditions you may have. The anti-aging lifestyle holds the tenets for heart health and thus is an excellent starting point: prevent, treat, and control high blood pressure and/or high blood cholesterol, avoid tobacco, prevent and manage diabetes, maintain adequate physical activity, enjoy a healthy diet, and achieve a healthy weight.
Optimal heart health in middle age helps the odds of living up to 14 years longer, free of cardiovascular disease. John T. Wilkins, from Northwestern University (Illinois, USA), and colleagues selected data from five different cohorts included in the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project and analyzed the participants’ risk of all forms of fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular disease from ages 45, 55 and 65 through 95 years of age. The team found that subjects with optimal risk factor profiles lived up to 14 years longer free of total cardiovascular disease, as compared to individuals with at least two risk factors. Lifetime risks for cardiovascular disease were strongly associated with risk factor burden in middle age. The study authors submit that: ““We need to do everything we can to maintain optimal risk factors so that we reduce the chances of developing cardiovascular disease and increase the chances that we’ll live longer and healthier.”
[Wilkins JT, Ning H, Berry J, Zhao L, Dyer AR, Lloyd-Jones DM. “Lifetime risk and years lived free of total cardiovascular disease.” JAMA. 2012 Nov 7;308(17):1795-801.]
Walk Off Heart Disease
Adding an extra 2,000 steps of walking each day to your regular physical activity may lower the risk of heart attacks and stroke by as much as 8%. Thomas Yates, from Leicester University (United Kingdom), and colleagues observed 9,306 adults from 40 countries with impaired glucose tolerances (IGT), who were at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The subjects used a pedometer to record their walking activity (average number of steps taken per day over a week, both at the start of the study and one year later).The researchers found that participants, who were already involved in some kind of physical activity at the start of the study, had lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, the risk was further reduced when people engaged in extra walking every day during the observation period. Walking 2,000 steps a day (20 minutes of moderate intensity walking) in addition to regular physical activity can help lower the risk of heart attacks and stroke by 8%. And the investigators submit that 4,000 extra steps each day (40 minutes of moderate intensity walking) confers therapeutic cardiovascular effects similar to that of consuming a statin a day.
[Yates T, Haffner SM, Schulte PJ, Thomas L, Huffman KM, Bales CW, et al. “Association between change in daily ambulatory activity and cardiovascular events in people with impaired glucose tolerance (NAVIGATOR trial): a cohort analysis.” Lancet. 2013 Dec 19. pii: S0140-6736(13)62061-9.]
Resistance Training Improves Cardiac Markers
Weight training helps to promote proper functioning of high-density lipoprotein (HDL; “good” cholesterol), among young men. Christian K. Roberts, from the University of California/Los Angeles (UCLA; California, USA), and colleagues assessed the molecular behavior of high-density lipoprotein (HDL; “good” cholesterol), in young men who weight trained regularly, as compared to sedentary counterparts. The researchers found that the men who didn't exercise were more likely than those who weight trained to have dysfunctional HDL. Having faulty HDL was associated with numerous other risk factors for heart disease, including high triglycerides and a higher trunk fat mass. This finding held true regardless of the men's weight, which suggests that maintaining a "healthy" weight isn't as important for healthy cholesterol function as being active by regularly performing strength training. Observing that: “Chronic [resistance training] is associated with improved HDL redox activity,” the study authors submit that: “This may contribute to the beneficial effects of [resistance training] on reducing cardiovascular disease risk, irrespective of body weight status.”
[Christian K. Roberts, Michael Katiraie, Daniel M. Croymans, Otto O. Yang, Theodoros Kelesidis. “Untrained young men have dysfunctional HDL compared with strength-trained men irrespective of body weight status.” J Appl Physiol October 1, 2013; 115:1043-1049.]
Healthy Diet Reduces Heart Disease Risks
People with known cardiovascular disease, or diabetes with end-organ effects, are at a lower risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack, heart failure, or stroke if they consume a healthy diet. Researchers involved in two clinical studies involving a total of 31,546 men and women, average age 66.5 years, sought to elucidate the role of diet on future cardiovascular events in people at-risk and receiving medication for secondary prevention. The research group reported that their analysis of two cohorts of patients with cardiovascular disease or diabetes showed that subjects who consumed the healthiest diet had a significantly lower risk of further cardiovascular events, as compared to those whose ate the poorest quality diet. The benefits were seen regardless of the type of medications that patients were taking. Writing that: “A higher-quality diet was associated with a lower risk of recurrent [cardiovascular disease] events among people 55 years of age [and older] with [cardiovascular disease] or diabetes mellitus,” the study authors urge that: “Highlighting the importance of healthy eating by health professionals would substantially reduce [cardiovascular disease] recurrence and save lives globally.”
[Dehghan M, Mente A, Teo KK, Gao P, Sleight P, Dagenais G, et al; on Behalf of the Ongoing Telmisartan Alone and in Combination With Ramipril Global End Point Trial (ONTARGET)/Telmisartan Randomized Assessment Study in ACEI Intolerant Subjects With Cardiovascular Disease (TRANSCEND) Trial Investigators. “Relationship Between Healthy Diet and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Patients on Drug Therapies for Secondary Prevention: A Prospective Cohort Study of 31 546 High-Risk Individuals From 40 Countries.” Circulation. 2012 Dec 4;126(23):2705-2712.]
To stay updated on the latest breakthroughs in natural approaches to promote cardiovascular health, visit The World Health Network, www.worldhealth.net, the official educational website of the A4M and your one-stop resource for authoritative anti-aging information. Be sure to sign up for the FREE Longevity Magazine® e-Journal, your weekly health e-newsletter featuring wellness, prevention, and biotech advancements in longevity.