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Heart disease: Seven things YOU should know about avoiding the killer condition
by Olivia Lerche
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death both in the UK and accounts for over a quarter of all deaths in the UK every year.
Coronary heart disease occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle is blocked or reduced and can lead to heart attacks, heart failure and angina.
The risk of developing the condition is significantly increased if you smoke, have high blood pressure (hypertension) or have high cholesterol.
Dr Sarah Brewer has revealed the seven factors which could influence how long people are likely to live, and how likely they are to develop the killer disease.
Reduce blood stickiness
Cardiovascular disease is linked with unwanted blood clotting, and mini-aspirin is often prescribed to thin the blood by reducing the tendency for blood cell fragments (platelets) to clump together.
A new tomato extract can do the same thing but without the risk of side effects that are associated with aspiring use.
Fruitflow is isolated from the clear jelly surrounding tomato seeds and is claimed to ‘maintain normal platelet aggregation, which contributes to a healthy blood flow’.
It works by keeping platelets smooth rather than spiky. This reduces clumping and protects against abnormal blood clotting and may help to prevent abnormal blood clotting as a complication of atherosclerosis.
A worldwide study involving 52 countries concluded that almost one in three heart attacks – 30 per cent – are linked with following a poor diet.
Dr Sarah Brewer said: “If you eat a heart-friendly diet, however, you can reduce your future risk of a heart attack even if you have already experienced one, and it’s never too late to start.
“The DASH – Dietary Approach to Stopping Hypertension – diet is based on the Mediterranean way of eating and can improve many risk factors for heart disease, from blood pressure and type 2 diabetes to cholesterol levels and weight.”
Are you taking vitamin D?
New understandings about vitamin D show that it is not just about calcium absorption and healthy bones – it also helps to protect against heart disease by improving blood pressure control and helping to reduce the amount of calcium laid down in artery walls.
A study involving 15,000 adults found those with the lowest vitamin D levels were 30 per cent more likely to have high blood pressure and 98 per cent more likely to have type 2 diabetes.
Dr Sarah said: “As we cannot synthesise vitamin D in the skin when the UV index is below 3, Public Health England recently recommended that everyone should take a vitamin D supplement during Autumn and Winter.
“Also, as we age our ability to absorb For optimum health, there is increasing evidence that higher doses of 25mcg to 50mcg vitamin D are needed, especially for older people as the ability to synthesise vitamin D declines in later life.”
Having an optimum cholesterol balance is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Eggs are now back on the menu, as it is recognised that they provide many nutritional benefits and, despite their cholesterol content, are not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease,” said Dr Sarah Brewer.
“The best dietary change you can make is to eat more fruit and vegetables, as they contain plant sterols which block the absorption of dietary cholesterol in the intestines.
“Eating Brazil nuts, for example, can have almost miraculous effects on your cholesterol levels.
“The EU has authorised a health claim that plant sterols can reduce blood cholesterol with a daily intake of 1.5-3 g plant sterols – to obtain this dose usually means taking supplements.”
Between six and seven million people in the UK take statins daily.
Dr Ross Walker, cardiologist said all people on statins should take Ubiquinol to prevent muscle issues, but he also recommends it as an excellent product to support energy levels and he says it can be taken ‘purely for energy’.
“There is an increasing body of scientific evidence demonstrating clearly that the active version of coenzyme Q10, Ubiquinol, is a vital cofactor for good cardiovascular health,” he said.
“There are preliminary studies supporting its use for statin induced myalgia, supportive treatment for congestive cardiac failure and promotion of a healthy cholesterol profile. Healthspan’s new Ubiquinol Max is one of the most important supplements for cardiovascular support.”
Turmeric is emerging as an exciting nutritional tool against cardiovascular disease.
This traditional herbal medicine helps to slow the progression of hardening and furring up of the arteries (atherosclerosis) through beneficial effects on the scavenger cells that engulf ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol and remove it from the circulation.
Dr Ross Walker added: “The combination of good quality lifestyle, and targeted supplementation and appropriate medical therapy depending on the estimated level of risk can markedly reduce your risk for cardiac events and keep your heart very healthy.”
What’s your Ubble Age?
Data from the UK Biobank, collected from nearly half a million adults, has allowed doctors to developed a Risk Calculator that can predict your chance of dying over the next five years. Dr Sarah Brewer said: “Simply answer a series of 11 to 13 questions about your background, lifestyle and health to discover your Ubble age – which could be significantly lower or higher than your actual age.
“You will also learn your predicted risk of dying over the next five years – a stat that is accurate for British adults aged 40 to 70 years. One surprising question relates to how fast you walk, as data suggests that simply walking faster is associated with a longer life span.
“In fact, walking pace was a stronger predictor of death risk in men and women than smoking habits and other lifestyle factors.”
Dr Sarah Brewer is a medical nutritionist and the author of over 60 popular health books, including Eat Well and Stay Well.