New drug dissolves arterial plaque – a major cause of heart disease

An injectable drug, Repatha, has been shown to dissolve damaging arterial plaques in a new patient trial.

Plaque deposits are responsible for clogging up arteries and contribute to blood clots – a major cause of heart attacks. Clots block the blood supply to the heart, leaving the crucial cardiac muscles starved of oxygen. Therefore treatments which can stop or reverse the build up of atheromas, cut heart attack risk and save lives.
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Data from a trial of 968 patients, was unveiled at the recent American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting in New Orleans, and showed that 64% of those treated with both Repatha and statins saw their atheromas shrink over 18 months.

But of the statins group only 48% experienced shrinkage and to a far smaller degree. Whereas the average patient treated with Repatha had a shrinkringe of plaque of 5.8 cubic mm, more than six times more than the 0.9 cubic mm shrinkage seen among those treated with statins alone.

Researcher Dr Stephen Nicholls, of the University of Adelaide, said the plaque reversal was ‘really quite profound’ – and was more than enough to stop a heart attack.

‘It is the difference in disease progression between those who have an event and those who don’t,’ he told the meeting.

Coronary heart disease, in which the major arteries become clogged, affects more than 2.3million people in Britain, and 69,000 die from heart attacks every year.

US company Amgen which makes the drug hopes that an even larger trial which completes next year , of nearly 30,000 people, will prove that the medicine does stop heart attacks.

Repatha is already available in the UK on the NHS and an estimated 325,000 people in the UK are already eligible to be prescribed it. That approval was made on the basis of trials which showed they reduced cholesterol by about 60 per cent more than statins.

Repatha is one of the first new cholesterol treatments developed since statins launched some 30 years ago – offer the first real alternative for people who cannot cope with the brutal muscle aches that sometimes accompany statins, or for whom statins simply do not work.

They have been approved in the UK for two main groups – those with a genetic condition which means they have dangerously high cholesterol, and people with heart disease who cannot cope with the side effects of statins.

But the new findings suggest the drugs could benefit hundreds of thousands more people – with up to 1.5million people potentially benefitting if the guidelines are changed.

The researchers, led by the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, found patients were still seeing their plaques shrink even when their cholesterol levels had reached very low levels – about a tenth of the level at which British patients are eligible for the drug.

Repatha, which is also known as evolocumab has so far been given to only handfuls of NHS patients, mostly because the of the cost. It costs about £4,400 per patient per year, although the NHS has agreed an undisclosed discount on this price.

Statins are incredibly cheap in comparison, costing the NHS about £20 a year per patient.

But doctors are more likely to start prescribing the drugs based on the new findings, which show for the first time that it has a clinical effect that extends beyond simply lowering cholesterol.

CoQ10 taken with selenium reduces cardiovascular death in human trial

Stockholm: A four-year trial of CoQ10 and selenium has revealed a significant reduction in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease among supple- mented men and women.

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The study, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, also uncovered a reduction in the cardiac N-terminal proBNP (NT-proBNP), a biomarker of cardiomyocyte wall tension, which is elevated in congestive heart failure and left ventricular dysfunction.
In a double-blinded trial, 228 Swedish citizens received a placebo or 200 micrograms of selenium per day plus 100 milligrams of CoQ10 twice daily for 48 months. 
Over 5.2 years of follow-up (which included the four-year treatment period), 5.9% of the supplemented group and 12.6% of the placebo group died of cardiovascular causes, which indi- cated a 54% adjusted risk reduction. Those in the treatment group also had lower levels of NT-proBNP compared to placebo, and better cardiac function as determined by echo- cardiography.
The authors Urban Alehagen and colleagues remark that selenium is essential for the optimal activity of TrxR1, a protein necessary for the effectiveness of CoQ10, which, in turn, is active in several metabolic pathways in the heart. The conclusion is that insufficient levels of either nutrient increases the risk of cardiovascular events.
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Jogging can add years to your life, says new study

Woman running.jpgCopenhagen: Jogging for as little as an hour a week can put years on your life, new research has shown.

Regular running increases the average life expectancy of men and women by around six years, a study found.

The greatest benefit came from jogging at a “slow or average” pace – enough to cause slight breathlessness – rather than pushing to physical limits.

Danish heart expert Dr Peter Schnohr, who led the study of almost 2,000 male and female joggers, said: “The results of our research allow us to definitively answer the question of whether jogging is good for your health.

“We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity. The good news is that you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits.”

The jogging research is part of the Copenhagen City Heart Study which has been monitoring the health of 20,000 Danish men and women aged 20 to 93 since 1976.

A team led by Dr Schnohr looked at death rates among a sub-group of 1,116 male and 762 female joggers over a period of up to 35 years.

Participants were asked how much time they spent jogging each week, and whether they ran at a slow, average or fast pace.

Compared with non-joggers in the main heart study population, the risk of death for both male and female runners was reduced by 44%.

The data showed that, after taking account of age, jogging increased the lifespan of men by 6.2 years and of women by 5.6 years.

Further analysis of the association between jogging and death rate revealed a “U-shaped curve”.

This meant improvements were seen with increasing levels of exercise until an optimum point was reached, after which they reduced.

Between one hour and two-and-a-half hours of moderately paced jogging a week, undertaken over two to three sessions, was ideal, said the scientists.

“The relationship appears much like alcohol intakes,” said Dr Schnohr, who presented the findings today at a meeting of heart experts in Dublin. “Mortality is lower in people reporting moderate jogging than in non-joggers or those undertaking extreme levels of exercise.

“You should aim to feel a little breathless, but not very breathless.”

He said jogging delivered multiple health benefits, including raised oxygen uptake, increased insulin sensitivity, higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, and reduced blood clotting.

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The anti-ageing super-smoothie

Scientists have identified a cocktail of “anti-ageing fruits” for the ultimate in healthy smoothies.

The scientists in France created a recipe of seven health-boosting fruit juices which together cut the risk of heart disease,stroke and increase lifespan.

 

Fotolia_25314964_XS.jpgThe super smoothie contains grapejuice, blueberries, strawberries, apple, lingonberry, acerola and aronia. The ones which contain the highest amounts of superfoods are the cowberry (aka lingonberry) – a tart, red fruit related to the cranberry – and acerola, a red cherry-like fruit that has 30 times more vitamin C than orange juice.
The final ingredient of the smoothie is aronia, or chokeberry, an American blackberry once described as the ‘healthiest berry in the world’.

Nutrionists already know that fruits contain compounds known as polyphenols which protect the heart and help prevent clogged arteries.

In animal tests, pig heart artery walls relaxed when they were exposed to the fruit juice cocktail. The researchers, from the University of Strasbourg, say that in a human, this would boost the flow of blood to the heart and ensure it got a healthy balance of nutrients and oxygen.

The team – who report their findings in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Food and Function – also measured the antioxidant ability of different recipes to neutralise harmful molecules in the body that can damage DNA and cells.
The study found that some polyphenols were more potent than others – and that their ability to mop up harmful ‘free radicals’ that can damage DNA and cells was more important than the amount of polyphenols in each fruit.

 

 

 

To make the super smoothie you will need the following:

126ml grape juice (30 grapes)

20ml blueberry puree (15 blueberries)

20ml apple (half an apple)

10ml lingonberry juice (8 ligonberries)

8ml acerola juice (5 acerola berries)

8ml aronia juice (5 chokeberries)

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Over the counter painkillers linked to heart problems

 

pillsPainkillers such as Ibruprofen, which is commonly used to reduce pain caused by inflammation, have been linked to increased risk of heart disease.

NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are recommended to patients suffering from Osteoarthritis and other painful conditions associated with inflammation, but new research has now linked these to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The researchers have now warned GPs to take cardiovascular risk into account with each individual patient before recommending the use of NSAIDs.
In 2004, a new generation anti-inflammatory drug, the COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib was withdrawn from the market after a trial found that it was linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This sparked a wide debate over the safety of such anti-inflammatory drugs, especially in those patients already at increased risk of developing heart disease.
The ongoing debate led researchers in Switzerland to perform a full analysis of all trials comparing NSAIDs with non NSAIDs or placebos – a total of 31 trials and 116,429 people taking 7 different drugs.
However, the researchers found that although the number of cardiovascular events occurring during the trials were low, they do not consider this to be proof of the drugs being safe to take when already at increased risk of heart problems or stroke – which applies to many patients suffering from musculoskeletal problems.
When compared with placebo, rofecoxib and lumiracoxib were associated with more than twice the risk of heart attack, while ibubrofen was associated with more than three times the risk of stroke. Etoricoxib and diclofenac were associated with the highest risk of cardiovascular death – around four times the risk when compared with the placebo results.
Naproxen appeared the least harmful of the 7 drugs involved in the analysis.
The results of this research indicate that more research needs to be done on this issue, given the risks involved and the regular recommendation of these drugs. It is clear that alternatives to the traditional anti-imflammatory drugs need to be evaluated and promoted.
Perhaps a worrying outcome of this study is its links to aspirin – also an NSAID – which is recommended to people attempting to keep their heart healthy. A clear guide to the NSAIDs would benefit the public and enable people suffering from Osteoarthritis and joint pain to have more say in their treatment.
If you want to find out more about all the NSAIDs, please visit the NHS link below;
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Anti-inflammatories-non-steroidal/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Gene cocktail creates beating heart cells

Los Angeles: A new technique, in which a gene cocktail, has been successfully to create beating heart cells, has been used on mice.

The new technique could also cut the need for transplants in people whose ailing hearts cannot mend themselves.

heart.bmpIf developed for use in human patients the new treatment could change the lives of many thousands of sick people.

The experiments, which were carried out on mice, are still in the early stages, but they offer fresh hope for the future.

They centre on the large muscular cells that allow the heart to beat and go about its vital work of pumping blood. Normally, the body has little or no way of replacing any that die or are damaged.

But researchers at the California’s Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, have devised a cocktail of genes that trick other heart cells called fibroblasts into transforming into beating muscle cells called cardiomyocytes.

The journal Cell reports how fibroblasts treated with the cocktail in the lab turned into beating muscle cells after being transplanted into a mouse.

Masaki Ieda of the Gladstone Institute said: “Scientists have tried for 20 years to convert non-muscle cells into heart muscle. It turns out we just needed the right combination of genes in the right dose.”

Deepak Srivastava, senior study author from Gladstone, said: “The ability to re-programme fibroblasts into cardiomyocytes has many therapeutic implications.

“Half of the cells in the heart are fibroblasts, so the ability to call upon this reservoir of cells already in the organ to become beating heart cells has tremendous promise for cardiac regeneration.”

In time a drug that works in the same way as the cocktail of genes could be developed. Injected into damaged hearts, it would drive the growth of new muscle.

“That’s our long-term goal,” said Srivastava.

Every two minutes, someone, somewhere has a heart attack. Many go on to develop heart failure, in which the weakened heart gradually loses its ability to pump blood.

Up to 40 per cent of these die within a year of diagnosis – giving heart failure a worse survival rate than many cancers.

Other organs could be patched up in a similar way, the researchers believe.

 

Scientists reveal how L-Arginine cleans arteries

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London: Scientists at Imperial College London have used a new chemical imaging technique to reveal how a simple dietary supplement cleans up arteries.

The new technique could one day help in the fight against atherosclerosis – the disease in which arteries get clogged up with plaque and fats, suggests the research research. (published in the August 2009 edition of the Journal of the Royal Society Interface).

Atherosclerosis is the disease underlying most heart attacks and strokes and it is characterised by lesions in the arteries, made of fats, collagen and cells.

The lesions cause artery walls to harden and thicken, which severely restricts the flow of blood around the body and they can also rupture, leading to heart attacks and strokes. Understanding the precise chemical composition of an individual’s lesions is important because the ones with higher levels of a type of fat, called cholesteryl ester, are more prone to rupture.

The team behind the new imaging technique, which is known as Attenuated Total Reflection Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopic Imaging (ATR-FTIR imaging), believe that with further refinement, it could become a useful tool for doctors wanting to assess a patient’s lesions.

For example, by combining fibre optic technology with ATR-FTIR imaging, the researchers believe doctors could carry out real-time inspections of patients with atherosclerosis, in order to assess the progress of the disease and establish which patients are at the greatest risk of complications.

Currently, doctors can use ultrasound to assess the size and location of lesions but they need to take biopsies of lesions in order to determine their chemistry. This is a complex and invasive procedure.

The researchers say the ATR-FTIR imaging could potentially improve current imaging techniques because it could combine imaging and chemical analysis, which would provide a comprehensive and accurate picture of a patient’s lesions in one procedure. In the present study, the researchers demonstrated that ATR-FTIR imaging was able to reveal the precise composition and size of the lesions and the levels of elastin, collagen and cholesteryl ester in them.

The ATR-FTIR imaging technology works by using infrared light to identify different chemical molecules, which are mapped by an array detector to create a ‘chemical photograph’.

The researchers used the technique to study the effects of age and an amino acid called L-arginine on the composition of lesions in cholesterol-fed rabbits. The work appeared to confirm that dietary L-arginine can remove lesions in the arteries of mature rabbits.

The researchers say further studies need to be done before the ATR-FTIR imaging could be used for patient care.

Lead-author, Professor Sergei Kazarian, from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology at Imperial College London, says:

“Atherosclerosis can be a dangerous condition and our hope is that with further work, our approaches could ultimately be used to determine which patients are most at risk of complications. That way, doctors can target treatments at those patients who most need it, in order to prevent strokes and heart attacks.”

This research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Black tea promotes healthy cardiovascular system

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Black tea is as potent as green tea in promoting beneficial effects in the cardiovascular system, according to a new study.

Commenting on the study, independent nutritionist, Dr Carrie Ruxton from the Tea Advisory Panel notes: “Drinking tea has been linked with beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, including slowing the progression of atherosclerosis. However, many studies showing these effects originate in East Asia where green tea is the main type of tea consumed. Given that black tea accounts for 75% of tea consumption worldwide, it is important to find out whether black tea is equivalent to green tea in relation to heart health.

“In this laboratory study, the effects of black and green tea on nitric oxide production and dilation of the blood vessels were compared. (Nitric oxide production is associated with relaxation and widening of the arteries which is good news for heart health.) Both types of tea stimulated production of nitric oxide and relaxation of the aorta, the large artery through which blood leaves the heart..

“When individual ingredients in the two types of tea were investigated some very interesting findings emerged. The only ingredient in green tea to cause nitric oxide production and relaxation of the arteries was epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). However, ingredients in black tea – the theaflavins and thearubigins, which are produced during black tea manufacture – were far more potent than EGCG in stimulating nitric oxide production and relaxation of the aorta.

“Cardiovascular disease remains the UK’s biggest and most silent killer so this latest study is great news for black tea drinkers and demonstrates the mechanism by which tea may contribute to heart health. Other studies show that around 4 cups of tea a day is the optimal level to drink.”

Adding further comment regarding black tea consumption and heart health, guest advisor to TAP, Dr Sanjay Prasad from the heart and stroke charity CORDA notes in conclusion: “It should also be noted that several studies suggest that increased tea consumption is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis and vascular event.[2] Increased tea consumption is also associated with reduced carotid plaque, so suggesting a protective effect of drinking three or more cups a day on carotid atherosclerosis[3]. Further work is required to validate these findings.”

The Tea Advisory Panel: The Tea Advisory Panel is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from the UK TEA COUNCIL, the trade association for the UK tea industry. For further information please call 0207 7058989.

2. CORDA was founded in 1976 to support clinical research into the prevention of heart disease and stroke using non-surgical methods. They have provided vital funding for the development of ultrasound and other non-invasive techniques used by the researchers at the Institute of Child Health to evaluate cardiovascular disease in the young. In fact, CORDA funded the world’s first cardiovascular magnetic resonance scanner at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) does not involve harmful X-rays. It provides the most powerful pictures of the body without surgery. As a result CORDA has enabled major medical advances in the understanding of the causes and development of heart disease and stroke. To find out more about CORDA log on to www.corda.org.uk

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Blueberries may prevent belly fat and diabetes

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New Orleans: New research has revealed that blueberries may contain phytochemicals that reduce several cardiovascular disease risk factors.

The discovery was made during a study performed in laboratory rats. While the animal findings suggest blueberries may be protective against two health conditions that affect millions of Americans, more research should be done.

The researchers studied the effect of blueberries (freeze dried blueberries crushed into a powder) that were mixed into the rat diet, as part of either a low- or high-fat diet. They performed many comparisons between the rats consuming the test diets and the control rats receiving no blueberry powder. All the rats were from a research breed that is prone to being severely overweight.

In all, after 90 days, the rats that received the blueberry-enriched powder, measured as 2 percent of their diet, had less abdominal fat, lower triglycerides, lower cholesterol, and improved fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity, which are measures of how well the body processes glucose for energy.

While regular blueberry intake reduced these risks for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, the health benefits were even better when combined with a low-fat diet.

In addition to all the other health benefits, the group that consumed a low-fat diet had lower body weight, lower total fat mass and reduced liver mass, than those who ate a high fat diet. An enlarged liver is linked to obesity and insulin resistance, a hallmark of diabetes.

The rats in the study were similar to Americans who suffer fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome as a result of high-fat diets and obesity. Metabolic syndrome is a group of health problems that include too much fat around the waist, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, high triglycerides, and together these conditions increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.

Remote heart monitoring for UK patients

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London: Suffers of heart illnesses now have access to a new service which offers remote monitoring of their condition – saving time and money on frequent medical visits.

The Reveal device, is a heart monitor that is implanted under the skin,which can now be linked to the Medtronic CareLink network which means that people suspected of having a heart condition can be assessed remotely by downloading data from the implanted monitor and can be directly accessed on the hospital’s computer system.

This means fewer trips to hospital for patients and huge potential bsavings for Britain’s National Health Service – saving both precious hospital time and resources.

There are approximately 2 million people in the UK with cardiac arrhythmias – a condition where the heart beats too fast, too slow or with an irregular beat. This can lead to sudden cardiac death which claims approximately 100,000 lives a year in the UK.

Identifying people with suspected arrhythmia earlier could save lives, though at present, currently only 8,500 people in the UK have such an implant fitted.

A pre-launch trial of the system found that 97% of patients preferred remote monitoring to hospital visits.

“This advance in technology will give patients suspected of having cardiac syncope more security and peace of mind about their heart devices,” says Trudie Lobban founder of STARS (Syncope Trust And Reflex Anoxic Seizures), adding that “For health professionals this will extend the reach of cardiovascular patient care beyond the clinic walls, and opens up new ways for doctors to treat patients.”

For more information on the Reveal device and the CareLink network, visit www.medtronic.co.uk and for more information on syncope and reflex anoxic seizures visit www.stars.org.uk

Olive oil protects the heart, new research reveals

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Lisbon: Scientists have discovered the constituent of olive oil that gives greatest protection from heart attack and stroke.

In a study of the major antioxidants in olive oil, Portuguese researchers showed that, DHPEA-EDA, protects red blood cells from damage more than any other part of olive oil.

Lead researcher Fatima Paiva-Martins, of the University of Porto said: “These findings provide the scientific basis for the clear health benefits that have been seen in people who have olive oil in their diet.”

Although heart disease is caused by several factors, one of the main contributors is reactive oxygen, including free radicals, acting on LDL or “bad” cholesterol causing hardening of the arteries. Red blood cells are particularly susceptible to oxidative damage because they are the body’s oxygen carriers.

In the study, published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, the researchers studied the effects of four related polyphenolic compounds on red blood cells subjected to oxidative stress by a known free radical generating chemical.

DHPEA-EDA was the most effective and protected red blood cells even at low concentrations. The researchers say the study provides the first evidence that this compound is the major source of the health benefit associated with virgin olive oils, which contain increased levels of DHPEA-EDA compared to other oils. In virgin olive oils, DHPEA-EDA may make up as much as half the total antioxidant component of the oil.

Paiva-Martins says the findings could lead to the production of “functional” olive oils specifically designed to reduce the risk of heart disease. “Now we have identified the importance of these compounds, producers can start to care more about the polyphenolic composition of their oils,” she says.

Docs closer to polypill for killer disease

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A new trial in India has shown that the so-called “polypill” to guard against stroke and heart attack in older people has beneficial results.

The concept of a polypill for everyone over 55 to cut heart disease by up to 80% was mooted over five years ago, but slow progress has been made since.

But critics of pill-popping as a cure for disease say the problems of high blood pressure and cholesterol should be tackled with diet and exercise.

The polypill used in the latest study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, combines five active pharmacological ingredients widely available separately – aspirin, a statin to lower cholesterol and three blood pressure-lowering drugs – as well as folic acid to reduce homocysteine.

Trials were carried out on 2,053 healthy individuals free of cardiovascular disease, but with a risk factor such as high blood pressure or a long-term smoker, showed combining the drugs into one tablet delivered a similar effect to each drug separately.

Reductions were seen in both blood pressure and cholesterol without any major side effects.

The researchers believe that the combined action of all the components in their “Polycap” capsule made by Cadila Pharmaceuticals, could potentially halve strokes and heart attacks in average, middle-aged people.

The study, led by Dr Salim Yusuf, from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, took in people at 50 centres across India.

A UK team led by Professor Simon Thom of Imperial College London is testing another polypill to see whether it does cut death rates.

They have been testing a four-in-one polypill called the Red Heart Pill, with the backing of the Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation, which could cost as little as 15 euros per person per year.

Professor Thom said it would be at least five years before there was enough data to convince drug regulators to approve a polypill.

“Mounting evidence shows the polypill does exactly what it should, but no more, whereas exercise has wide reaching effects on health and wellbeing. So a polypill is an addition rather than a replacement for lifestyle interventions.”

Top Tips for quitting smoking – watch the video

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Listen to an expert on why you should quite smoking to save your health and beauty.

As the number of people quitting smoking last year falls by 24% in the UK, No Smoking Day, on March 11, challenges 12 million people to kick the habit

It’s national No Smoking Day again, a day when a quarter of the UK population – that’s 12 million smokers – are encouraged to kick their habit. In fact, every year more than a million people quit smoking on No Smoking Day. The campaign will also highlight the benefits of stopping smoking and how to get help.

Research* shows that that 24% fewer people quit smoking (April 2008 to September 2008), compared to the same period in 2007 – the months straddling the introduction of the smoking ban in July 2007 – when the number of quitters was exceptionally high. Worryingly, the number of smokers who managed to stay off cigarettes four weeks after quitting fell to 133,704 2008, a 24% fall compared to the same period in 2007 when 176,277 successfully quit. So how can you quit for good?

Visiting a local pharmacy should be the first step for smokers who want to quit for good on No Smoking Day. Pharmacists are at the front line of helping people to stop smoking, and can provide expert advice and support. They are also among the most accessible of healthcare professionals, with branches open in the high street at convenient times, often when GP surgeries are closed. 99% of people can reach a pharmacy within 20 minutes of their home and many offer private consultation rooms.

*NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care

Web: www.rpsgb.org.uk

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Omega 3 – How to find the best by the experts at Croda

NOT ALL OMEGA 3 IS EQUAL
SO HOW CAN WE TELL THE DIFFERENCE?

Recent media reports have shown that omega 3 supplements on the UK high street vary significantly in terms of the amount of essential fatty acids they contain. Trying to cut through the confusion for consumers is becoming increasingly paramount, because omega 3 fatty acids have clear benefits for many areas of our health and lifestyle, such as heart, circulation and brain health. But we need to seek the best possible quality – and the question remains, how can we tell what’s best?

Pure concentration

An exciting new development area at the top end of the omega 3 spectrum is in high potency, high purity omega 3 marine-based supplement concentrates, which are creating new opportunities and bringing additional health benefits to consumers. They are enriched in EPA, (Eicosapentaenoic Acid), DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), and in some, the newly emerging DPA (Docosapentaenoic Acid), seen by experts as the next generation in omega 3 for heart health. Concentrates are distilled and refined during several processes, which also reduces the level of saturates and contaminants which may remain in more unrefined 18/12 grades.

But there’s a catch…

There is currently no globally accepted standard for the omega 3 levels required to define a fish oil product as a ‘concentrate’. Most fish oils currently on the market are based on cod liver or ‘18/12’ oils. 18/12 oils are sourced from blended fish body oils and are known as ‘18/12’ because they give an EPA/DHA ratio of 18% and 12% respectively per 1g of oil. In low-cost health supplements, they form the basis of many so-called ‘concentrates’.

What am I looking for?

Check the ingredient list on the pack to find out the content and dosage of each fatty acid. Look for more of EPA and DPA if you are taking omega 3 for heart health and DHA for brain health.

In true concentrates, fewer and smaller capsules are needed per omega 3 dose, which means that compliance is enhanced and therefore the therapeutic benefits boosted.

Typical fish oil concentrate label information shows:
Nutritional Information Amount per Softgel % RDA
Fish Oil 1200mg *
Providing Omega 3 fatty acids 720mg *
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) 396mg *
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) 264mg *
Other fatty acids 60mg *

There is no official RDA, but two world-renowned and respected scientific committees have offered advice on this subject:

• The UK’s JCHI (Joint Health Claims Initiative) recommends that 0.45g of long chain omega 3 fatty acids daily to help maintain a healthy heart
• The AHA (American Heart Association) recommends:
o 1-2g per day to help maintain a healthy heart
o 4g EPA + DHA per day for people with coronary heart disease

Stamp of approval
Croda has developed the PureMax sign of quality. Products displaying the PureMax logo have gone through a unique purification and concentration technology process. The process removes heavy metals, environmental pollutants and oxidative impurities to ensure the highest quality oils. The end products have minimal impurities and contain the selectively concentrated fatty acids. Higher concentration offers greater consumer convenience, improved palatability, better dose compliance and greater cost-efficiency.

So look out for the PureMax stamp of approval to ensure you are taking the best omega 3.

Visit www.puremax.info to discover more.

For further information and to receive a comprehensive omega 3 information pack, please contact Claire or Stephen at Fuel PR on 020 7498 8211. Experts available for interview.

• References:
o Arterburn LM, Bailey E, Oken H; Distribution, interconversion, and dose response of n-3 fatty acids in human, Am J Clin Nutr, 2006, 83, 1467S-76S
o Barton CL, Next-Generation Nutraceuticals . Food and pharma convergence in disease prevention and personalized nutrition, Business Insights Ltd, 2006
o Calder PC, Grimble RF; Polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation and immunity, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2002, 26 Suppl 3, S14-S19.

Western diet cause of most heart attacks

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New York: A Western diet rich in fried foods, salt and meat accounts for 35 per cent of heart attacks worldwide, researchers say.

They said their findings support evidence that animal fat and junk food can lead to heart attacks.

“This study indicates that the same relationships that are observed in Western countries exist in different regions of the world,” says the study’s senior author, Salim Yusuf, a professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton.

The study published in the current issue of the journal Circulation, examined 16,000 people in 52 countries, and analysed 5,761 cases of heart attack.

Participants gave blood samples and filled in detailed diaries on what they ate between February 1999 and March 2003. Depending on what participants reported, they were divided into three dietary groups.

The report found that:

* People who consumed the “prudent” diet of more fruits and vegetables had a 30 per cent lower risk of heart attack compared with people who ate few or no fruits and vegetables.
* People who consumed the “Western” diet had a 35 per cent greater risk of having a heart attack compared with people who consumed few fried foods and little meat.
* The “Oriental” diet, which is loaded with tofu but also high in salty soy sauce, showed no relationship with heart attack risk.

The results clarify that it’s the eating of Western food that drives up the risk of heart attacks, rather than other lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise, Yusuf and his colleagues say.

“Diet is serious for the individual, but also if we can make population-level changes, we can prevent a lot of heart attacks, using, you know, relatively simple measures,” said study author Dr. Sonia Anand, a medical professor at McMaster.

Also on Monday, a series of reports published in the medical journal the Lancet concluded that worsening diets and unhealthy habits in China are contributing to a looming health crisis in the increasingly wealthy country.

“The pace and spread of behavioural changes including changing diets, decreased physical activity, high rates of male smoking and other high-risk behaviours has accelerated to an unprecedented degree,” one report says.

The journal said 177 million Chinese adults suffer from hypertension, which it blamed in part on high salt consumption.

“People don’t want to eat boring when they eat healthy,” says Julie Lau of the B.C. Heart and Stroke Foundation in Vancouver. Lau consults with large restaurant chains to help them offer healthier choices.

“They want to have lots of flavour, so we tried to recreate the flavour without using a lot of salt, without using a lot of fat.”

Yusuf’s study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario; the International Clinical Epidemiology Network; and unrestricted grants from several pharmaceutical companies.

CARDIOVASULCAR DISEASE

Red Bull stroke and heart attack risk

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Sydney: Australian scientis have found that just one can of the energy drink Red Bull, can raise the risk of stroke or heart attack.

In a study of university students it was found that drinking one can of the sugar-free version of the energy drink made blood “sticky” – similar to that of a patient with cardiovascular disease.

Researcher Dr Scott Willoughby, of the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the Royal Adelaide Hospital,said the the blood become abnormal about one hour of drinking Red Bull.

He warned that for people at risk of cardiovascular disease – stress or high blood pressure – this could be potentially deadly.’

Dr Willoughby, said he was ‘alarmed’ at the results and would not drink Red Bull himself.

Those with underlying heart or circulatory problems should think twice before buying the caffeine-loaded drink, he said.

Red Bull is already banned in Norway, Uruguay and Denmark because of health fears, but the company last year sold 3.5 billion cans and bottles in 143 countries.

Dr Willoughby said drinking Red Bull caused the blood ‘to become sticky’
The Australian researchers said that two of the drink’s ingredients – caffeine and the amino acid taurine – may have dangerous consequences for the heart when taken together.

Dr Willoughby said: ‘Caffeine and taurine – both of these individually point towards being beneficial but maybe there’s something quirky about the effect of the combination of the two that is causing this reaction, that is what we need to look at next.’

Formulated by the marketing director of an Austrian toothpaste company in the 1980s, one can contains 80 mg of caffeine, around the same as a cup of filter coffee, or two cups of instant.

The warning on the cans advises people not to drink more than two a day.

Red Bull Australia spokeswoman Linda Rychter said: ‘The study does not show effects which would go beyond drinking a normal cup of coffee.”

Essential minerals may cut heart attack risk

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A diet rich in minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium may cut the risk of developing coronary heart diseases and stroke, suggests a new study.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension, suggest that an increased consumption of these minerals through fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products might reduce high blood pressure and decrease blood pressure in people with hypertension, which is one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease.

According to the paper, Americans consume double the sodium and about half the potassium that is recommended by current guidelines. If they are able to increase their potassium intake, the number of adults with blood pressure levels higher than 140/90 mm Hg might decrease by more than 10 per cent and increase life expectancy.

Some studies have also shown that diets high in magnesium at least 500 to 1,000 mg/d and calcium more than 800 mg/d may lead to both a decrease in blood pressure and risk of developing hypertension. Data regarding these minerals, however, are not definitive.

“If we were to achieve the correct potassium/sodium ratio through dietary means, there would be less hypertension and cardiovascular disease in the population as a whole,” said Dr Mark C Houston, author of the study.

Coffee is good for women’s hearts

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Coffee may protect women against heart disease, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has revealed.

Researched studied 84,000 women from 1980 until 2004 and 42,000 men between 1986 and 2004 and questioned their coffee consumption every four years.

It found that women who drank two or three cups of full-strength coffee a day were 25 per cent less likely to die of heart disease than those who drank none. Those who drank decaffeinated coffe also had lower death rates.

The scientists were unsure why coffee did not confer any benefits on men. The study was also inconclusive on whether it was coffee or some other factor in the women’s lifestyle that was responsible for the positive effect on their health.

Coffee contains antioxidants and tannins which are good for the heart and arteries. It has also been shown to be good for liver and reduce asthma attacks.

Red wine retards ageing, concludes new research

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Red wine which contains an antioxidant called resveratrol can remove fat from the diet, new research into its affect on ageing has revealed.

This confirms the speculation over why the French can eat a fatty diet but still remain healthy.

Earlier studies have already shown that resveratrol, also found in grapes, pomegranates and other foods.

In the journal PLoS ONE, the new research explains that even low doses of the substance in the diet of older mice may protect the heart. It is thought that resveratrol behaves in the same way as caloric restriction, a diet containing a full range of nutrients but with half the calories of a typical diet, which extends lifespan and cuts the risk of obesity, diabetes and cancer.

The study was carried out by the University of Wisconsin-Madison compared the gene use of animals on a restricted diet with those fed small doses of resveratrol. The authors concluded that a glass of red wine or supplements containing even small amounts of the substance could cease the rate of heart ageing.

Mediterrean diet cuts diabetes risk

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Madrid: A Mediterranean diet that includes fruit, vegetables, fibre and healthier fats may protect against type two diabetes, a new study suggests.

The study monitored the eating habits of 14,000 Spaniards over a four year period to see who developed the condition.

The results indicated a 83% lower risk for those who followed the diet, the British Medical Journal reported.

The traditional lifestyle of the Mediterrean includes regular exercise, but also plenty of fish, fruit and vegetables, usually cooked in olive oil, and red wine.

This diet has already been shown to be good for heart health. In addition olive oil helps control blood sugar and lower blood pressure.

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Women ignore heart dangers

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London: Three out of four women are ignorant of the risks to heart health as they age, according to new research by food manufacturer Benecol.

The risk of heart health problems increases after the menopause but 78% of women are unaware of the danger.

More than two thirds of the women, aged between 25 and 65 years, did not know that heart disease is the main cause of death in women or that it can be caused by high levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol.

Nearly 50% did not realise that cholesterol levels rise after the menopause because of the fall in levels of the hormone oestrogen.

The survey carried out by Consumer Analysis for Benecol concluded that the majority of women are confused about the symptoms of heart disease and the risk factors which include high blood pressure, obesity and smoking.

Plant sterols are mega cholesterol busters

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Plant sterols, also called phytosterols, can reduce cholesterol levels, no matter how much fat is in your diet, says Canadian researchers in the journal, Metabolism.

So if you have a diet high in saturated fats including those in read meat, cheese and fried foods you can still fight bad cholesterol (LDL) by taking phytosterol supplements.

Although the new research has revealed that phytosterols continue to work evne if you eat bad dietary fats it makes sense to improve the foods you eat. As well as supplements there are also added phytosterols in some foods, particularly the fats and drinks in the Flora range of products.

Why your daily cuppa is good for your heart

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London: Women who drink tea may be protecting themselves from building up plaque in their arteries, so reducing their risk for heart disease and stroke, according to the results of a study conducted in Paris.

Commenting on the study, Dr Catherine Hood from the TEA ADVISORY PANEL (TAP) notes: “This research study found that older women who reported drinking at least three cups of tea a day were less likely to have plaque in the carotid arteries in their neck than those drinking less tea. The build up of plaque in the arteries contributes to atherosclerosis, which is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

“This was a large study involving 2,613 men and 3,984 women, aged about 73 years old. Their carotid artery plaque was measured by ultrasound and assessed in relation to tea drinking and other dietary habits and medical and personal history, information about which was obtained during individual interviews with the study subjects.

“Carotid plaques were evident in 45% of non-tea drinking women, in 42.5% of women who reported drinking 1-2 cups of tea daily and in only 33.7% of those reporting drinking three or more cups a day. Findings in dietary studies are often confounded by other factors such as presence of disease in the subjects and other lifestyle behaviours. However, in this study, findings did not depend on whether the women were smoking or not, whether or not they took hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and whether or not they suffered from vascular disease.

“The same inverse association between drinking three or more cups of tea a day and carotid plaque was found in women aged more or less than 75 years, with a body mass index of less or more than 27, with or without hypertension. No significant interaction was found with level of education or fruit and vegetable intake. In short, the association between increased tea consumption and reduced carotid plaque was independent of dietary and lifestyle habits, age and major cardiovascular risk factors.”

Guest advisor to TAP, Dr Sanjay Prasad from the heart and stroke charity CORDA notes in conclusion: “Several studies suggest that increased tea consumption is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis and vascular event.[3] However, according to the researchers of this study, it is the first to show that increased tea consumption is associated with reduced carotid plaque, so suggesting a protective effect of drinking three or more cups a day on carotid atherosclerosis. Further work is required to validate these findings.”

The Tea Advisory Panel: The Tea Advisory Panel is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from the UK TEA COUNCIL, the trade association for the UK tea industry. The Panel has been created to provide media with impartial information regarding the health benefits of tea. Panel members include nutritionists; dieticians and doctors. For further information please call + 44(0)207 8089756.

1. CORDA was founded in 1976 to support clinical research into the prevention of heart disease and stroke using non-surgical methods. They have provided vital funding for the development of ultrasound and other non-invasive techniques used by the researchers at the Institute of Child Health to evaluate cardiovascular disease in the young. In fact, CORDA funded the world’s first cardiovascular magnetic resonance scanner at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) does not involve harmful X-rays. It provides the most powerful pictures of the body without surgery. As a result CORDA has enabled major medical advances in the understanding of the causes and development of heart disease and stroke. To find out more about CORDA log on to www.corda.org.uk.

Average person’s heart is five years older than their real age

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London: The average person’s heart is five years older than their chronological age, according to a new study.

Based on an analysis of heart health checks conducted at branches of Lloydspharmacy, and using a protocol developed by Unilever and Boston University, the study shows that people’s hearts are aging faster than they should.

The research is based on a sample of more than 3000 tests conducted on adults less than 60 years old. The study should be a real wake up call for smokers in particular. The findings reveal that puffing away results in a heart age which is a full 14 years older than smokers’ actual age. The figure for non smoking men is 4 years. Women, however, fare better. The average Heart Age of non-smokers in this age group is the same as their chronological age.

Recently it emerged that while death rates from coronary heart disease are falling among the old they are levelling off or rising among people aged 35 to 54, suggesting that there is a middle aged heart disease bulge caused by over-indulgence and sedentary lifestyles.

The findings of the research coincide with the launch of a tie-up between Lloydspharmacy and Flora pro.activ. The initiative was launched by Gloria Hunniford who has been working with Flora pro.activ on a number of heart health campaigns.

Heart health is an issue that Gloria feels passionate about. She lost her first husband, Don Keating, as a result of an undetected heart condition and then her husband Stephen Way suffered a heart attack just after they got married.

Gloria herself had raised cholesterol (6.35mmol/l), and these experiences alerted her to what she describes as, “the silent killer cholesterol”, and made her realise that she needed to take serious steps to protect her own heart.

As part of the link between Lloydspharmacy and Flora pro.activ, people can get a free Cholesterol test and Heart Check worth £15 at more than 600 branches of Lloydspharmacy nationwide in return for two proofs of purchase of any Flora pro.activ products.

The Lloydspharmacy Cholesterol and Heart Check is a 10-15 minute consultation involving, amongst other things, cholesterol and blood pressure tests and a lifestyle assessment. Based on these results a percentage risk score of developing heart disease over the next ten years is estimated.

Heart Age

Heart age is calculated using a range of factors including blood pressure,
blood cholesterol, diet and lifestyle. The Heart Age Calculator was
developed through collaboration between Unilever (the parent company of
Flora) and the Boston University Statistics and Consulting Unit, the department that was involved in identifying the factors that increase people’s risk of heart disease in the world-famous Framingham Heart Study.

About Lloydspharmacy

Lloydspharmacy has 1,700 pharmacies across the country. These are based predominantly in community and health centre locations. The company employs over 16,000 staff, of which 80 per cent are women and dispenses 120 million prescription items annually. The pharmacies have over two million visits per week by customers who are also predominantly women.

Lloydspharmacy is the trading name of Lloydspharmacy Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Celesio AG based in Stuttgart. Celesio is the leading pharmaceutical distribution company in Europe and is represented in 15 countries. With its three divisions, Celesio Wholesale, Celesio Pharmacies and Celesio Solutions, the group covers the entire scope of pharmaceutical trade and pharmaceutical-related services.

Lloydspharmacy which is a community pharmacy has primary care at the heart of its business. This is why has launched a range of products aimed at community health such as affordable blood pressure monitors, Solar Safe products and is a supporter of NHS initiatives such as NHS Choices by providing terminals in-store for patient information.