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Understanding the signs of heart disease

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HEART diseases are a major cause of death today. This week, we look at some of the symptomatic signs of heart diseases.

► Inflammation

Chronic low-grade inflammation damages the arterial wall leading to lesions, which then ­attract oxidised and/or glycated cholesterol and dietary fats to help form plaques.

The presence of arterial plaques is a sign of heart disease.

Damaged cholesterol molecules and dietary fats are treated by our immune system as ­antibodies, hence, promoting ­inflammation. Any inflammatory condition can promote ­hypertension and slow wound healing as well.

The blood marker hs-CRP and IL-6 are widely used to measure cardiovascular ­inflammation and even mortality.

Inflammatory foods abound such as farmed animal, livestock, fish, and excessive use of omega-6 vegetable cooking oils.

A high-inflammatory diet carries higher risk of arterial plaque rupture. And recently-formed plaques are much more likely to rupture than stable calcified ones, which will increase the risk of fatal heart attack.

Chronic inflammation easily destabilises soft arterial plaques, especially in the presence of uncontrolled hypertension.

Vascular inflammation may be lowered by nutrients such as DHA/EPA (both being omega-3 fatty acids), trans-resveratrol, ­quercetin, soy genistein, tea polyphenols, curcumin, gingerol, grape seed ­extract (OPC), vitamins A, C and, D, magnesium citrate, as well as Malaysian ­cocoa, dark ­chocolate, and rosemary.

Genistein strengthens ­arterial wall which helps explain why soy (rather than animal) protein lowers risk of heart attack.
Regular exercises also lower overall ­inflammation.

► Hypertension

High blood pressure is one of the top risk factors for developing cardiovascular ­disease.

Dr Mark C. Houston, in What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Heart Disease, stresses that hypertension isn’t a disease but rather a marker for ­vascular (blood vessels) and ­endothelial (artery wall) dysfunction ­promoted by our environment interacting with our genes.

This means that if you’ve a genetic ­predisposition to high blood pressure but don’t have the bad environment, lifestyle and/or dietary habits stimuli to ­trigger hypertension, you don’t ­generally develop this silent killer.

Vascular ageing may be ­evidenced by ­progressive ­arterial stiffness or hardening, loss of arterial ­elasticity, and pulse­ ­pressure.

Salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and caffeinated drinks have been implicated in causing ­arterial stiffness, whereas soy protein isolate, omega-3 fish oil, dark green leafy vegetables, and garlic can reduce artery hardening.

Widely-used nutrient L-arginine for ­complementary treatment of hypertension is generally effective since it raises nitric oxide, which dilates arteries.

DHA, NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), gamma tocopherol (vitamin E) and resveratrol also can lower blood pressure besides reducing ­oxidation of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

► Diabetes

Endothelial dysfunction, which precedes hypertension, can cause insulin ­resistance which then promotes ­diabetes.

Refined sugars including ­sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol, ­tagatose, and steviol-glycosides can cause insulin spikes, stimulate the ageing gene, TOR, and suppress the longevity gene, SIRT.

Additionally, a diet high in refined starches can raise levels of homocysteine and toxic free radicals.

Diabetic people, on the whole, produce lower levels of endothelial progenitor cells for arterial repair and renewal.

Nutritional therapist reduces the negative effects of diabetes by designing a protocol containing nutraceutical such as alpha lipoic acid, trans-resveratrol, charantin, cinnamon, hydroxycitric acid, EPA/DHA, calorie ­restriction, adequate sleep, as well as by raising the ­patient’s metabolism through regular exercise and lifestyle modifications.

Poor dietary and/or lifestyle habits can adversely affect immune vascular function, which will lead to vascular heart disease.

► Autoimmunity

Any form of autoimmune disorders (immune system gone haywire) – such as rheumatoid ­arthritis, lupus, eczema, psoriasis, and asthma – promotes inflammatory diseases including atherosclerosis.

This is also true with chronic infections such as those inflicted by common H. Pylori and viruses.

► Oxidative stress

High blood sugar or triglyceride levels induce oxidative stress. Only oxidised cholesterol and/or fats are known to form part of the vulnerable arterial plaques.

Tea polyphenols, resveratrol, and ­monounsaturated fatty acids can reduce ­oxidation of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. Resveratrol can be found in cocoa and peanut.

Systemic (whole body) oxidative stress can even affect our brain cells triggering ­inflammatory ­response and ­hypertension.

For men and ­menopausal women, ­elevated blood ferritin (iron store) from the consumption of excess red meat, organ meat and eel also enhances oxidation.

► Mental conditions

Unresolved anger or anxiety disorder can ­severely damage heart health. For heart ­patients, it significantly raises their risk of a second heart attack.

Sleeping very late and for less than six hours a night elevates physical and mental stress while doubling the risk of developing diabetes type 2.

► Mitochondria

Unhealthy cellular mitochondria strongly promote oxidative stress.

L-carnitine is needed to transport long-chain fatty acids to the mitochondria, which are energy-generating components of our heart cell inherited only from our mother.

Co-enzyme Q10 can energise the heart muscles while lowering systolic blood ­pressure.

Calorie restriction can ­improve ­mitochondrial ­function and activate their biogenesis ­(regeneration).

► Telomere

Shorter telomeres in our cell chromosomes have been linked to increased coronary artery calcification, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, arterial stiffness, and even higher ­mortality rate.

Its length is determined partly by ­nutritional status and levels of physical activity.

A high vegetable diet, regular exercises, stress reduction, and intake of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamins C and E are known to increase enzyme telomerase activity in preventing early telomere shortening.

via Understanding the signs of heart disease | theSundaily.

1m diabetics by 2050 as Singaporeans get older, fatter

A diabetic man undergoing dialysis treatment. Ageing and obesity are the two main factors that will drive Singapore’s number of diabetics up in the next 40 years, according to new research by the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health. — ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
By Salma Khalik Health Correspondent

By 2050, Singapore may have as many as one million diabetics. Every one in two people, by age 70, will be diabetic – up from one in three today. Of the adult population, 15 per cent will suffer from the disease, compared with 11.3 per cent now.

And because people here are not just getting older, but also fatter, obesity is likely to push up the risks of diabetes, which in turn raises the risk of stroke, heart and kidney failure, and blindness.

Ageing and obesity are the two main factors that will drive Singapore’s number of diabetics up in the next 40 years, according to new research by the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.

Sounding the warning on Monday at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, its dean Chia Kee Seng said such academic knowledge has to be translated into action. “We can now project the impact of proposed obesity reduction programmes on the prevalence of diabetes in Singapore in 2050,” he told more than 400 international participants at the opening of the inaugural Singapore International Public Health Conference.

ST

Exercising in midlife protects heart, says research


Gardening counts as moderate exercise

Making sure you get enough exercise in midlife will help protect your heart, according to research.

Even those who make the switch in their late 40s and 50s can still benefit, the study of over 4,000 people suggests.

And it need not be hard toil in a gym – gardening and brisk walks count towards the required 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week, say experts.

But more work is needed since the study looked at markers linked to heart problems and not heart disease itself.

And it relied on people accurately reporting how much exercise they did – something people tend to overestimate rather than underestimate.


This research highlights the positive impact changing your exercise habits can have on the future of your heart health ”

Maureen TalbotBritish Heart Foundation

In the study, which is published in the journal Circulation, people who did the recommended 2.5 hours of exercise a week had the lower levels of inflammatory markers in their blood.

Inflammatory markers are important, say experts, because high levels have been linked to increased heart risk.

‘Get active’

People who said they consistently stuck to the recommended amount of exercise for the entire 10-year study had the lowest inflammatory levels overall.

But even those who said they only started doing the recommended amount of exercise when they were well into their 40s saw an improvement and had lower levels of inflammation than people who said they never did enough exercise.


UK exercise recommendations

  • Under-fives (once walking independently): three hours every day
  • Five to 18-year-olds: at least an hour a day of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, plus muscle strengthening activities three times a week
  • Adults (including over 65s): 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, plus muscle strengthening activities twice a week

The findings were unchanged when the researchers took into consideration other factors, such as obesity and smoking, that could have influenced the results in the group of UK civil servants who were included in the study.

Dr Mark Hamer, of University College London, who led the research, said: “We should be encouraging more people to get active – for example, walking instead of taking the bus. You can gain health benefits from moderate activity at any time in your life.”

Maureen Talbot of the British Heart Foundation, which funded the work, said: “Donning your gardening gloves or picking up a paint brush can still go a long way to help look after your heart health, as exercise can have a big impact on how well your heart ages.

“This research highlights the positive impact changing your exercise habits can have on the future of your heart health – and that it’s never too late to re-energise your life.

“However it’s important not to wait until you retire to get off the couch, as being active for life is a great way to keep your heart healthy.”

BBC

Women urged to take care of heart

 

SINGAPORE: A new study of more than 15,000 Singaporean patients revealed women admitted for acute coronary syndrome — or the sudden blockage of arteries — were twice as likely to die as men.

Experts at the 8th Go Red for Women symposium, organised by the Singapore Heart Foundation, stressed that women must take action to care for their heart.

Acute coronary syndrome patients can experience tightness around the chest which usually leads to heart attacks and strokes.

Women’s risk for heart disease also increases after menopause, as oestrogen levels drop.

In fact, heart disease and stroke are the top killer of women.

Contrary to popular belief, cardiovascular diseases kill five times more women than breast cancer.

Health experts said heart disease could be under-diagnosed among females because symptoms may manifest differently, for example, in unexplained fatigue or pain in the jaw.

Experts said heart disease is mainly preventable through healthy diets and regular exercise.

Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said: “Age, gender and heredity are some risk factors for heart disease and stroke that you cannot change in your lifetime.

“But there are behaviours that you can adopt to change other risk factors.

“This includes not smoking, controlling your high blood pressure and high cholesterol, preventing obesity and physical inactivity, and managing diabetes and stress.”

Dr Khor said there is little excuse for avoiding those jogging shoes, as the government has invested heavily in new outdoor spaces, from park connectors to mall walks in shopping centres.

Health authorities are also working towards better screening initiatives.

A new Women’s Health Advisory Committee is in the pipeline to better educate women about good health.

The Go Red for Women campaign is part of an international movement led by the American Heart Association, to encourage women to take action in reducing their risks of heart disease.

CNA/wk

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