Starchy Snacks May Increase CVD Risk; Fruits and Veggies at Certain Meals Decreases Risk

Can starchy snacks harm heart health? New research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association, found eating starchy snacks high in white potato or other starches after any meal was associated at least a 50% increased risk of mortality and a 44-57% increased risk of CVD-related death. Conversely, eating fruits, vegetables or dairy at specific meals is associated with a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer or any cause.

“People are increasingly concerned about what they eat as well as when they eat,” said Ying Li, Ph.D., lead study author and professor in the department of nutrition and food hygiene at Harbin Medical University School of Public Health in Harbin, China. “Our team sought to better understand the effects different foods have when consumed at certain meals.”

Li and colleagues analyzed the results of 21,503 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003 to 2014 in the U.S. to assess dietary patterns across all meals. Among the study population, 51% of participants were women and all participants were ages 30 or older at the start of the study. To determine patient outcomes, researchers used the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Death Index to note participants who died through December 31, 2015, due to CVD, cancer or any cause.

Researchers categorized participants’ dietary patterns by analyzing what types of food they ate at different meals. For the main meals, three main dietary patterns were identified for the morning meal: Western breakfast, starchy breakfast and fruit breakfast. Western lunch, vegetable lunch and fruit lunch were identified as the main dietary patterns for the mid-day meal. Western dinner, vegetable dinner and fruit dinner were identified as the main dietary patterns for the evening meal.

For snacks, grain snack, starchy snack, fruit snack and dairy snack were identified as the main snack patterns in between meals. Additionally, participants who did not fit into specific meal patterns were analyzed as a reference group. The researchers noted that the Western dietary pattern has higher proportions of fat and protein, which is similar to many North American meals.

Participants in the Western lunch group consumed the most servings of refined grain, solid fats, cheese, added sugars and cured meat. Participants in the fruit-based lunch group consumed the most servings of whole grain, fruits, yogurt and nuts. Participants in the vegetable-based dinner group consumed the most servings of dark vegetables, red and orange vegetables, tomatoes, other vegetables and legumes. Participants who consumed starchy snacks consumed the most servings of white potatoes.

According to their findings:

  • Eating a Western lunch (typically containing refined grains, cheese, cured meat) was associated with a 44% increased risk of CVD death;
  • Eating a fruit-based lunch was associated with a 34% reduced risk of CVD death;
  • Eating a vegetable-based dinner was associated with a 23% and 31% reduction in CVD and all-cause mortality, respectively; and
  • Consuming a snack high in starch after any meal was associated with a 50-52% increased risk of all-cause mortality and a 44-57% increased risk in CVD-related mortality.

“Our results revealed that the amount and the intake time of various types of foods are equally critical for maintaining optimal health,” said Li. “Future nutrition guidelines and interventional strategies could integrate optimal consumption times for foods across the day.”

Limitations to this study include that dietary data was self-reported by participants, which may lead to recall bias. And, although the researchers controlled for potential confounders, other unmeasured confounding factors cannot be ruled out.

Source: American Heart Association

High Glycemic Index Diet May Up Risk for Cardiovascular Disease, Death

Diets with a high glycemic index are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and death, according to a study conducted on five continents published online Feb. 24 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

David J.A. Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Toronto, and colleagues examined data from 137,851 participants between the ages of 35 and 70 years living on five continents to examine the association between glycemic index and cardiovascular disease. Dietary intake was determined using country-specific food-frequency questionnaires, and glycemic index and load were estimated based on consumption of seven categories of carbohydrates.

During a median follow-up of 9.5 years, there were 8,780 deaths and 8,252 major cardiovascular events. The researchers found that a diet with a high glycemic index was associated with an increased risk for a major cardiovascular event or death after performing adjustments comparing the lowest with the highest glycemic-index quintiles, both among those with and without preexisting cardiovascular disease (hazard ratios, 1.51 and 1.21, respectively). A high glycemic index was also associated with an elevated risk for death from cardiovascular causes. The results with respect to glycemic load were similar for participants with cardiovascular disease at baseline, but not for those without preexisting cardiovascular disease.

“I have been studying the impact of high glycemic diets for many decades, and this study ratifies that the consumption of high amounts of poor quality carbohydrates is an issue worldwide,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Diets high in poor quality carbohydrates are associated with reduced longevity, while diets rich in high quality carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables, and legumes have beneficial effects.”

Source: HealthDay

Study: How Air Pollution May Increase the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Julie Cunningham wrote . . . . . . . . .

Tiny particles of air pollution — called fine particulate matter — can have a range of effects on health, and exposure to high levels is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. New research led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reveals that fine particulate matter has a detrimental impact on cardiovascular health by activating the production of inflammatory cells in the bone marrow, ultimately leading to inflammation of the arteries. The findings are published in the European Heart Journal.

The retrospective study included 503 patients without cardiovascular disease or cancer who had undergone imaging tests at MGH for various medical reasons. The scientists estimated participants’ annual average fine particulate matter levels using data obtained from the U.S. Environment Protection Agency’s air quality monitors located closest to each participant’s residential address.

Over a median follow-up of 4.1 years, 40 individuals experienced major cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, with the highest risk seen in participants with higher levels of fine particulate matter at their home address. Their risk was elevated even after accounting for cardiovascular risk factors, socioeconomic factors, and other key confounders. Imaging tests assessing the state of internal organs and tissues showed that these participants also had higher bone marrow activity, indicating a heightened production of inflammatory cells (a process called leukopoiesis), and elevated inflammation of the arteries. Additional analyses revealed that leukopoiesis in response to air pollution exposure is a trigger that causes arterial inflammation.

“The pathway linking air pollution exposure to cardiovascular events through higher bone marrow activity and arterial inflammation accounted for 29% of the relationship between air pollution and cardiovascular disease events,” says co–first author Shady Abohashem, MD, a cardiovascular imaging fellow at MGH. “These findings implicate air pollution exposure as an underrecognized risk factor for cardiovascular disease and suggest therapeutic targets beyond pollution mitigation to lessen the cardiovascular impact of air pollution exposure.”

Co–first author Michael Osborne, MD, a cardiologist at MGH, explains that therapies targeting increased inflammation following exposure to fine particulate matter may benefit patients who cannot avoid air pollution. “Importantly, most of the population studied had air pollution exposures well below the unhealthy thresholds established by the World Health Organization, suggesting that no level of air pollution can truly be considered safe,” he says.

Source: Massachusetts General Hospital

Gut Microbiome Data May be Helpful in Routine Screening of Cardiovascular Disease

Using artificial intelligence to analyze the bacteria in a person’s gut microbiome shows promise as a new screening method for cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to preliminary research to be presented Sept. 10-13, 2020, at the virtual American Heart Association’s Hypertension 2020 Scientific Sessions. The meeting is a premier global exchange for clinical and basic researchers focusing on recent advances in hypertension research. The full study published simultaneously today in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.

Recent studies have found a link between gut microbiota, the microorganisms in human digestive tracts, and CVD, which is the leading cause of mortality worldwide. Gut microbiota is highly variable between individuals, and differences in gut microbial compositions between people with and without CVD have been reported.

“Based on our previous research linking gut microbiota to CVD in animal models, we designed this study to test whether it is possible to screen for CVD in humans using artificial intelligence screening of stool samples,” said Bina Joe, Ph.D., FAHA, the study director, Distinguished University Professor and Chairwoman of the department of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio. “Gut microbiota has a profound effect on cardiovascular function, and this could be a potential new strategy for evaluation of cardiovascular health.”

Researchers used data from the American Gut Project (an open platform for microbiome research based in the United States) to analyze microbial composition of stool samples with state-of-the-art machine learning modeling. Nearly 1,000 samples were analyzed, and approximately half of the samples were from people with CVD. The model was able to identify different clusters of gut bacteria that could potentially help identify individuals with existing CVD and without CVD.

Among the bacteria identified:

  • Bacteroides, Subdoligranulum, Clostridium, Megasphaera, Eubacterium, Veillonella, Acidaminococcus and Listeria were more abundant in the CVD group.
  • Faecalibacterium, Ruminococcus, Proteus, Lachnospira, Brevundimonas, Alistipes and Neisseria were more abundant in the non-CVD group.

“Despite the fact that gut microbiomes are highly variable among individuals, we were surprised by the promising level of accuracy obtained from these preliminary results, which indicate fecal microbiota composition could potentially serve as a convenient diagnostic screening method for CVD,” Joe said. “It is conceivable that one day, maybe without even assessing detailed cardiovascular function, clinicians could analyze the gut microbiome of patients’ stool samples with an artificial machine learning method to screen patients for heart and vascular diseases.”

Source: American Heart Association


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World-first Study on Blood Hormone could Reduce Cardiovascular Deaths

Kim Thomas wrote . . . . . . . . .

A simple blood test could identify seemingly-healthy people with a high hidden risk of heart disease thanks to a world-first discovery by University of Otago, Christchurch researchers.

Researchers from the University’s Christchurch Heart Institute studied the blood samples and cardiology scans of 665 healthy young and middle-aged people with no previous heart conditions. They found people with high levels of a hormone in the blood, called C-type Natriuretic Peptide (CNP), were significantly more likely to have stiffening of the arteries, reduced pumping action of the heart, higher fat levels in the blood and liver, and reduced kidney function—all signs of increased risk of heart disease.

The discovery could one day enable doctors to identify those people whose lives could be saved from a future heart attack by interventions such as drugs or lifestyle changes.

The study is the first to describe a link between the blood hormone CNP and inflammation across a range of tissues including arteries and the heart. The results were recently published in the prestigious Peptides journal.

Lead researcher Dr. Tim Prickett says CNP seems to protect arteries from hardening and blocking. This means it is working hard and present in higher levels in those with potentially poor, and undetected, cardiovascular health.

“We examined two quite different groups of healthy people—one group age 28 years, the other age 50 years—both without history of heart or kidney disease. High levels of CNP in both age groups were found in people who had stiffer arteries, reduced pumping action of the heart, higher fat levels in the blood and liver, and reduced kidney function.”

Dr. Prickett says inflamed and blocked arteries can cause numerous physical problems including scarring and stiffness and damage to organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys. “We found that CNP in the blood stream reflects an increased production of CNP in these tissues, as part of a protective response to inflammation.”

He says the finding that CNP acts to protect the body is key to helping save lives through early detection of serious conditions such as atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

This is one of a number of discoveries by the Christchurch Heart Institute over the past 25 years. The research group has discovered and developed blood tests for heart disease diagnosis and treatment, some of which are used in hospitals and emergency departments in New Zealand and around the globe.

Source: Medical Xpress


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