Tag Archives: atherosclerosis

Support grows for antioxidant protection in heart disease

There is a lot of talk about “oxidative stress” and heart disease. This process results from an imbalance between excessive formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and/or reactive nitrogen species and limited antioxidant defences. Endothelium (the lining found within blood vessels) and nitric oxide (NO) are key regulators of vascular health. NO bioavailability is regulated by ROS that degrade NO, uncouple NO synthase, and inhibit its production. Cardiovascular risk conditions contribute to oxidative stress, causing an imbalance between NO and ROS, with a relative decrease in NO bioavailability. Dietary flavonoids represent a range of polyphenolic compounds naturally occurring in plant foods. Flavonoids are potentially involved in cardiovascular prevention mainly by decreasing oxidative stress and increasing NO bioavailability.
Diet and nutrition play a fundamental role in cardiovascular prevention and in maintaining physiological homeostasis. Recent literature emphasizes the potential therapeutic effects of micronutrients found in natural products, indicating positive applications for controlling the pathogenesis of chronic cardiovascular disease. In this context, cocoa, some chocolates, red wine, and tea received much attention, because they are particularly rich in flavonoids, phytochemicals with strong antioxidant properties. In addition, polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidants in our diet and are common constituents of foods of plant origin and are widespread constituents of fruits, vegetables, cereals, olive, dry legumes, chocolate and beverages, such as tea, coffee and wine.
The full study is available for down load (click here) where the reaserchers conclude that these key antioxidants exert a protective and preventative finctio in the battle against atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
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Interview with Professor Robert Sapolsky

Robert Sapolsky is an American biologist and author. He is currently professor of Biological Sciences, and Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, and by courtesy, Neurosurgery, at Stanford University. As a neuroendocrinologist, he has focused his research on issues of stress and neuronal degeneration, as well as on the possibilities of gene therapy strategies for protecting susceptible neurons from disease. His popular book, Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers describes the effects of stress on thye human body and is one of those ‘must-reads’ for all. I was lucky enough to pose some commonly asked questions for Prof Sapolsky; his replies are worth noting!

Q. What do you feel is the main adverse effect stress has on the human body?
A. “Well, there’s a number of particularly vulnerable outposts. Probably the most frequent adverse effects are hypertension, sleep disruption, disruption in concentration, depression, increased incidence of colds, sexual dysfunction.”

Q. What would be your 3 top tips to help someone suffering from stress?
A. “I’d say, 1) as per the cliche, distinguish between stressors you can and can’t control and, in the case of the former, find ways to increase the sense of control;  2) when the stressor is uncontrollable, at least strive for predictive information about when it is coming, how long it is going to last, and how bad it will be;  3) increase the amount of social support you get and give. Mind you, all this is said by someone who mostly thinks about stressed rats and neurons growing in Petrie dishes.”

Q. Do you feel that diet can help someone suffering from stress since many people report using B-vitamins can help them manage better?
A. “Well, it can certainly head off some of the adverse effect (e.g., large amounts of antioxidants delaying the emergence of some of the long-term pathologies of stress). What’s even clearer is that a bad diet is particularly bad news in the context of stress. For example, a combination of a high fat diet plus chronic psychosocial stress causes a synergistic increase in atherosclerosis in monkeys.”

There you have it… from experts mouth! Roberts knowledge of the biological effects of stress are beyond question and as we move into an ever more stressful existence we have to listen and learn how to off set its ravages on our bodies.

Check out the video clip below to learn more about stress and its biological effects…

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Arthritis & Artery Disease

Hand osteoarthritis in older women appears to be associated with carotid and coronary atherosclerosis, Icelandic and US researchers report in the November issue of Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

“These results” lead investigator Dr. Helgi Jonsson told Reuters Health, “indicate a linear association between the severity of hand osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis, suggesting that the pathological processes have certain components in common.”

Dr. Jonsson of Landspitalinn University Hospital, Reykjavik and colleagues examined data from a population-based study of Icelanders involving 2264 men and 3078 women with a mean age of 76 years.

After adjustment for age and other confounders, in women, both carotid plaque severity and coronary artery calcification were significantly associated with hand osteoarthritis. For coronary artery calcification, the odds ratio was 1.42 and for moderate or severe coronary plaques, it was 1.25.

Both of these factors showed significant linear trends in relation to hand osteoarthritis in women over the whole cohort. However, no significant relationships were seen in men.

“Our results,” say the investigators, “lend support to theories indicating that vascular pathology is an integral part of the osteoarthritis process.”

Dr. Jonsson concluded “I consider this a major step forward in our understanding of the systemic nature of osteoarthritis and think that further studies of hand osteoarthritis may provide the key necessary for the understanding and treatment of osteoarthritis.”

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