Mind Your Diet During Pregnancy to Cut C-Sec Risk

Mind Your Diet During Pregnancy to Cut C-Sec Risk

A woman’s diet plays a crucial role in her future plan of conceiving a child. According to a study done by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in England, half of all women of childbearing age worldwide are overweight or obese, which puts both mother and the child at risk during pregnancy and later life. As such following a healthy diet combined with physical activity before and during pregnancy can help a great deal, as stated by the researchers.
Resorting to moderate intensity exercise such as aerobics exercises and stationary cycling during pregnancy may decrease the risk of having a caesarean section (C-sec) or developing diabetes, suggest the researchers. The findings showed that dieting combined with physical activity significantly reduced the mother’s weight gain during pregnancy by an average of 0.7 kg. It also lowered the odds of the mother having a caesarean section by about 10 per cent, the research revealed.

Caesarean section can carry risks such as infections for the mother and breathing difficulties for the baby. “For every 40 mothers who follow the healthy diet and moderate exercise, one less woman will end up with a caesarean section,” said Shakila Thangaratinam, Professor at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Changes in lifestyle reduced the risk of diabetes in pregnancy by 24 per cent, which normally affects over one in 10 mothers in pregnancy and increases risks of complications in mother and the baby.

plate comparison healthy diet

plate comparison healthy diet
“Our findings are important because it is often thought that pregnant women shouldn’t exercise because it may harm the baby,” Thangaratinam said.

 

But the study, published in The BMJ, shows “that the babies are not affected by physical activity or dieting, and that there are additional benefits including a reduction in maternal weight gain, diabetes in pregnancy, and the risk of requiring a caesarean section”, she added.

For the study, the team looked at the individual participant data for 12,526 pregnant women across 36 previous trials in 16 countries, which compared the effects of dieting and physical activity.

[“Source-ndtv”]

Some types of vegetarian diet can raise heart disease risk

Researchers divided diets into 'healthful' and 'unhealthful' categories

“Being vegetarian isn’t always healthy: Plant-based diet may raise the risk of heart disease,” the Daily Mail reports. A US study found a vegetarian diet based on less healthy food options, such as refined grains, could increase the risk of heart disease.

The researchers behind the latest study made the point that many previous diet and health studies “lumped together” all types of vegetarian diets as plant-based, without considering the actual content of specific diets. And not all plant-based diets are healthy and nutritious.

The researchers looked at data involving 200,000 health workers from the US and tried to analyse any link between diet and coronary heart disease.

Overall a high plant-based diet wasn’t linked with a clear benefit for heart disease risk compared with a low plant-based/high meat-based diet.

When the plant-based diets were broken down and analysed further, the researchers found interesting differences.

Those eating a “healthy” plant-based diet high in wholegrains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats were less likely to get heart disease than people eating “unhealthy” plant-based diets including foods like potatoes, refined grains and sweets.

While the study can’t rule out the possibility that other health and lifestyle factors such as stress, job type and education could have influenced the links, the association between unhealthy plant-based diets and heart disease is plausible.

The diet advice for vegetarians is the same for everyone else: eat a balanced diet with at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, eat less sugar, salt, and saturated fat, and choose wholegrain carbohydrates where possible.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, AbbVie (a pharmaceutical company), and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, all in the US. It was funded by the US National Institutes of Health, US Department of Agriculture/Blueberry Highbush Council and the California Walnut Commission, and Metagenic. One author has served on the Scientific Advisory Committees of IKEA, Take C/O, and SPE, and another is also an employee of AbbVie.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The Daily Mail’s reporting was generally accurate, but the statement claiming “refined grains and potatoes lead to a higher risk of cardio-metabolic disease” is not entirely representative. These were just two of a wide variety of foods included in the “unhealthy plant-based diet.” Neither does this statement account for the fact that there may be many other health and lifestyle factors other than diet contributing to coronary heart disease risk.

What kind of research was this?

This was a study pooling data from three large cohort studies of health professionals. It aimed to see whether consuming a plant-based diet or a diet including meat was associated with risk of coronary heart disease.

Coronary heart disease is the general term used to describe when the arteries supplying the heart become clogged by a build-up of fatty substances. Complete blockage of the arteries causes heart attack, a major cause of death both in the UK and worldwide.

A prospective cohort study is a good way of looking at the link between an exposure (such as diet) and an outcome (like heart disease) as you can examine a large number of people over a long period of time.

However, you are unable to control the diets or all other lifestyle factors that could be having an influence, such as smoking and exercise. A randomised controlled trial would be needed for this, but it is not really possible to make sure people stick to a specific diet for a long period of time.

What did the research involve?

The research included:

  • 73,710 women (aged 30 to 55 years) involved in the Nurses’ Health Study (1984 to 2012)
  • 92,329 women (aged 25 to 42 years) involved in the Nurses’ Health Study 2 (1991 to 2013)
  • 43,259 men (aged 40 to 75 years) taking part in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2012)

This study only included participants who, at the start of the study, did not have coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Information on diet was collected every two to four years using a food frequency questionnaire. Participants recorded how often on average they consumed a specified portion of any of 130 food items in the past year. This ranged from “never or less than once a month” to “six or more times a day”.

Three versions of a plant-based diet were created from these questionnaires based on intake of 18 main food groups:

  • An overall plant-based diet index (PDI) was created by assigning positive scores to plant foods and reverse scores to animal foods.
  • A “healthful plant-based diet index” (hPDI) was created by giving positive scores to healthy plant foods such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, oils and tea. Both animal foods and less healthy plant foods such as juices, refined grains, fries and sweets received a negative score.
  • An “unhealthful plant-based diet” (uPDI) was created by giving positive scores to less-healthy plant foods, such as sweets, cakes, chips and crisps, and scores to animal and healthy plant-based foods.

The researchers looked at participant reports of coronary heart disease during follow-up assessments, and validated this through checking medical records. Deaths were identified through next of kin and a search of the US National Death Index.

Results were adjusted for the following confounding factors:

  • smoking
  • age
  • physical activity
  • alcohol
  • multivitamin use
  • family history of coronary heart disease
  • margarine intake
  • energy intake
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • body mass index
  • post-menopausal hormone use and oral contraceptive use in women

What were the basic results?

During follow-up 8,631 people developed coronary heart disease.

High adherence to an overall plant-based diet (PDI) showed a trend for reduced risk compared to low adherence to a PDI and a mainly animal-based diet, but this fell just short of statistical significance (hazard ratio [HR] 0.92, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.83 to 1.01).

However, when analysing “healthful” versus “unhealthful” plant-based diets separately:

  • Highest adherence to the healthy plant-based diet reduced risk of heart disease by 25% compared with a low adherence to this diet (i.e. consuming an unhealthy plant-based diet, including meat) (HR 0.75, 95% CI 0.68 to 0.83).
  • Highest adherence to an unhealthy plant-based diet increased risk of heart disease by 32% compared with lowest adherence to this diet (i.e. consuming a healthy plant-based diet, including meat) (HR 1.32, 95% CI 1.20 to 1.46).

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that a “higher intake of a plant-based diet index rich in healthier plant foods is associated with substantially lower CHD risk, whereas a plant-based diet index that emphasizes less-healthy plant foods is associated with higher CHD risk.”

They further add that “dietary guidelines and lifestyle interventions could recommend increasing intake of healthy plant foods, while reducing intake of less healthy plant foods and certain animal foods for improved cardiometabolic health.”

Conclusion

This large pooled cohort study seems to demonstrate an association between a healthy plant-based diet and reduced risk of coronary heart disease, and an increased risk of heart disease with an unhealthy plant-based diet.

This adds to the evidence base supporting the possible benefits of healthy plant-based diets in protecting against certain illnesses. However there are some limitations to the research:

  • The cohort included only health professionals from the US so might not be representative of wider populations in the UK or elsewhere.
  • The study can’t provide information on the benefits or otherwise of this diet in people with established coronary heart disease, stroke or cancer as these people were excluded.
  • The questionnaire was self-reported and asked for recall of food habits over the previous year so there might be some inaccuracies in reporting. Also, people might not want to admit to consuming less healthy foods – although if unhealthy foods were under-reported, this could have meant an even bigger difference in results.
  • Heart disease outcomes were mainly self-reported and then verified, so some cases may have been missed.
  • Although analyses adjusted for various health and lifestyle factors, there are likely to be many other confounding variables influencing likelihood of coronary heart disease, such as education, occupation or stress levels.

Nevertheless the study supports general understanding about the benefits of wholegrains, fruits and vegetables and healthy sources of fat.

Eating a purely plant-based, but unhealthy, diet may be good for your conscience but not so good for the heart.

Read more about healthy vegetarian diets.

Analysis by Bazian

Edited by NHS Choices

Links to the headlines

Being vegetarian isn’t always healthy: Plant-based diet may raise the risk of heart disease. Daily Mail, July 18 2017

Vegetarian diets can lead to higher risk of heart disease, finds study. The Independent, July 17 2017

Links to the science

Satija A, Bhupathiraju SN, Spiegelman D, et al. Healthful and Unhealthful Plant-Based Diets and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in U.S. Adults. Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

[Source:-.nhs.uk]

Even modest changes to diet could reduce risk of death, study finds

Image result for Even modest changes to diet could reduce risk of death, study finds

With more than one-third of U.S. adults suffering from obesity, it’s no surprise that many Americans would benefit from healthier eating habits. Fad diets capitalize on our desire for quick results but usually fail in the long run.

Now new research adds to the evidence that a more moderate approach can make a lasting difference.

A study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds that improving the quality of diet over time, even with modest changes, may significantly reduce the risk of premature death.

Improvements to diet included consuming more whole grainsvegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish and eating less red and processed meats and sugary beverages.

“Overall, our findings underscore the benefits of healthy eating patterns including the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. Our study indicates that even modest improvements in diet quality could meaningfully influence mortality risk and conversely, worsening diet quality may increase the risk,” lead author Mercedes Sotos-Prieto, who worked on the study while a postdoctoral fellow in the Harvard Chan School department of nutrition and who is currently an assistant professor of nutrition at Ohio University, said in a statement.

For the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Sotos-Prieto and her team analyzed data on nearly 74,000 adults over a 12-year period. The researchers assessed the participants’ diet using three different scoring methods: the 2010 Alternate Healthy Eating Index, the Alternate Mediterranean Diet score, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet score. Each model assigns scores to various types of food, with healthier foods receiving higher scores and less healthy foods receiving lower scores.

The results showed that better diet quality over a 12-year period was linked to a reduced risk of death in the subsequent 12 years, no matter which method of scoring was used. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fish or n-3 fatty acids appeared to contribute most to an improvement in diet quality.

Specifically, the study showed that a 20-percentile increase in diet-quality scores was associated with an 8 to 17 percent reduction in the risk of death.

That can be achieved, for example, by swapping out just one serving of red or processed meat and replacing it with one daily serving of nuts or legumes.

In contrast, worsening diet quality was linked to a 6 to 12 percent increase in the risk of death.

Nancy Z. Farrell, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said the findings reinforce the work she does every day with her patients.

“Registered dietitian nutritionists practice evidence-based science every day in encouraging and educating the public on disease prevention and treatment, and we know that chronic disease increases the cost of health care and drives up insurance premiums,” she told CBS News.

Farrell says everyone can benefit from making smart diet swaps as often as possible.

“Have a ‘meatless Monday’ dinner where you incorporate beans or legumes, such as red beans and quinoa. Or have a veggie pizza night,” she suggests.

When it comes to snacking, avoid high-calorie junk foods like potato chips and opt for a handful of nuts, or make your own trail mix with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.

And if you’re looking for a sweet treat, skip the ice cream and try freezing some fruit instead.

“Blueberries or blackberries offer a refreshing summer snack with a burst of coolness,” Farrell said.

Importantly, experts say it’s crucial to not only incorporate such changes into your diet, but to stick with them over time.

“Our results highlight the long-term health benefits of improving diet quality with an emphasis on overall dietary patterns rather than on individual foods or nutrients,” said Frank Hu, professor and chair of the Harvard Chan School department of nutrition and senior author of the study. “A healthy eating pattern can be adopted according to individuals’ food and cultural preferences and health conditions. There is no one-size-fits-all diet.”

[“Source-cbsnews”]

How does a high-fat diet raise colorectal cancer risk?

Image result for How does a high-fat diet raise colorectal cancer risk?A new study suggests a molecular explanation for the link between a high-fat diet and colorectal cancer.
While the evidence of a link between an unhealthful diet and colorectal cancer is robust, the underlying mechanisms for this association have been unclear. A new study, however, may have uncovered an explanation.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio have identified a cellular signaling pathway, called JAK2-STAT3, that drives the growth of cancer stem cells in the colon in response to a high-fat diet.

What is more, the researchers found that blocking the JAK2-STAT3 pathway in mice fed a high-fat diet halted the growth of these stem cells, a finding that might fuel the development of new drugs to treat colorectal cancer.

Study co-author Dr. Matthew Kalady, co-director of the Comprehensive Colorectal Cancer Program at the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

After skin cancer, colorectal cancer – a cancer that begins in the colon or rectum – is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States.

The American Cancer Society estimate that there will be 95,520 new cases of colon cancerdiagnosed in the U.S. this year, as well as 39,910 new cases of rectal cancer.

In recent years, a wealth of studies have suggested that a high-fat diet is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. However, the precise mechanisms behind this association have been ambiguous.

With the hope of shedding light on such mechanisms, Dr. Kalady and colleagues investigated how a high-fat diet influences JAK2-STAT3, a cellular signaling pathway known to promote tumorgrowth.

Findings may fuel new treatments

To reach their findings, the researchers used microrarray analysis to assess primary and metastasized tumors in mouse models of colorectal cancer.

When the mice were fed a high-fat diet, the growth of cancer stem cells in the colon increased. Studies have indicated that cancer stem cells are a key driver in the growth and metastasis of tumors.

On further investigation, the team found that blocking the JAK2-STAT3 cellular signaling pathway in the rodents reversed the increase in cancer stem cell growth triggered by a high-fat diet.

When analyzing the effects of a high-fat diet in colorectal cancer mouse models that were obesity-resistant, the researchers were able to replicate their findings.

Dr. Kalady says that this study is the first to demonstrate how a specific molecular pathway might mediate the link between a high-fat diet and colorectal cancer, a discovery that could yield new treatments for the disease.

We can now build upon this knowledge to develop new treatments aimed at blocking this pathway and reducing the negative impact of a high-fat diet on colon cancer risk.”

Dr. Matthew Kalady

“These findings also provide a new way in which cancer stem cells are regulated and provide insight into how environmental influences, such as diet, can alter cancer stem cell populations in advanced cancers,” adds study co-author Justin D. Lathia, Ph.D., of the Lerner Research Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

[“Source-medicalnewstoday”]

A few minutes of light exercise, rather than a sweaty gym workout, is all that is needed to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, study suggests

Even small amounts of physical activity can offer health benefits that protect against diabetesEven small amounts of physical activity can offer health benefits that protect against diabetes, new research suggests.

A new study found that even a little exercise wards off insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes which can result from a high-fat diet.

Insulin resistance occurs when the cells of the body stop responding to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels in the body.

Exercise can prevent insulin resistance by prompting the body to remove damaged cells and enhancing the quality of mitochondria, the cell’s energy powerhouses.

Type 2 diabetes affects 4.5 million people living in the UK and 29 million people in the US.

Even small amounts of physical activity can offer health benefits that protect against diabetes

The study also casts doubt on the previously held view that increasing the quantity of mitochondria could help fix some consequences of a high fat diet, including insulin resistance.

The researchers found that the benefits from physical activity were not affected by the quantity of mitochondria.

Lead researcher Megan Rosa-Caldwell, a doctoral student at the University of Arkansas, found that mice genetically engineered to have higher quantity of mitochondria were not more protected against high-fat diet induced insulin resistance.

How was the research conducted?

The researchers fed all the mice in the study a Western diet high in fat.

The genetically engineered and control mice were further divided into a group that was allowed to exercise, and a sedentary group.

Their results showed that physical activity, regardless of the amount of mitochondria, offered similar health benefits against insulin resistance.

Even a little exercise wards off insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes which can result from a high-fat diet

Study found even a little exercise wards off insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes

The researchers said that it appears that exercise’s ability to help remove damaged cells and enhance the quality of the mitochondria may be more effective for preventing insulin resistance.

But they said these aspects need to be further tested.

Exercise offers ‘the greatest protection’

Ms Rosa-Caldwell said that with rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes continuing to increase, understanding the cellular processes that help or hurt insulin resistance can help doctors better tailor effective preventative measures such as exercise.

She added: ‘For now, physical activity is the greatest protection, but further research may enable us to prevent and treat insulin resistance, and subsequent diabetes, more effectively.’

The research was published in the journal Experimental Physiology.

[“Source-ndtv”]

 

Insomniac? You are at a greater risk of asthma

Insomniac? You are at a greater risk of asthma (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)Insomniac? You are at a greater risk of asthma (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)
Do you chronically spend sleepless nights, have poor sleep quality or face difficulties initiating or maintaining sleep? Beware, you may be more than thrice at risk of developing asthma in adulthood, researchers have warned.

Asthma affects approximately 300 million people worldwide, with major risk factors including smoking, obesity and air pollution.

“The study found that those people with chronic insomnia had more than three times the risk of developing asthma, suggesting that any changes in the body due to insomnia may accumulate and result in more severe harmful effects on the airways,” said lead author Ben Brumpton from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Norway.

More recently, symptoms of depression and anxiety have also been associated with a risk of developing asthma in adulthood, the researchers said.

For the study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, the team used statistical analysis to assess the risk of asthma among 17,927 participants aged between 20 and 65 years in Norway.

The results showed that those participants reporting difficulty falling asleep “often” or “almost every night” during the last month had a 65 per cent and 108 per cent increased risk of developing asthma over the following 11 years, respectively.

Similarly, those who reported waking too early without being able to go back to sleep “often” or “almost every night” had a 92 per cent and 36 per cent increased risk of developing asthma.

For people who reported poor quality sleep more than once a week, the risk of developing asthma increased by 94 per cent.

“As insomnia is a manageable condition, an increased focus on the adverse health effects of insomnia could be helpful in the prevention of asthma,” suggested Linn Beate Strand from NTNU.

source”cnbc”

Vitamin A deficiency in pregnant women ups risk of Alzheimer’s for child

Vitamin A deficiency in pregnant women ups risk of Alzheimer's for child (Getty Images)Vitamin A deficiency in pregnant women ups risk of Alzheimer’s for child (Getty Images)
For would-be-mommies, inclusion of sweet potatoes, carrots, and dark leafy greens in their diet are a must, as a study warns that deficiency of vitamin A in the womb or just after birth can have a detrimental effect on the brain development of the fetus or the newborn and may lead to Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

The findings, published today in Acta Neuropathologica, indicate that early developmental stages are crucial periods during which brain tissue is “programmed” for the rest of a person’s life.

According to researchers from the University of British Columbia genetically-engineered mice, also demonstrate that supplements given to newborns with low levels of vitamin A could be effective in slowing the degenerative brain disease.

“Our study clearly shows that marginal deficiency of vitamin A, even as early as in pregnancy, has a detrimental effect on brain development and has long-lasting effect that may facilitate Alzheimer’s disease in later life,” said Dr. Weihong Song.

For this research, Song built on previous studies that have linked low levels of vitamin A with cognitive impairments.

The researchers examined the effects of vitamin A deprivation in the womb and infancy on Alzheimer’s model mice.

They found that even a mild vitamin A deficiency increased the production of amyloid beta, the protein that forms plaques that smother and ultimately kill neurons in Alzheimer’s disease.

Mice who were deprived in utero but then given supplements immediately after birth performed better on the tests than mice who weren’t given such supplements.

“In some cases, providing supplements to the newborn Alzheimer’s disease model mice could reduce the amyloid beta level and improve learning and memory deficits,” said Song.

The study also included new evidence in humans of the vitamin A-dementia connection in later years.

Pregnant women in particular should not take excessive vitamin A supplements. A balanced diet is the best way to ensure adequate levels of the nutrient.

source”cnbc”

Eat mushrooms to prevent risk of Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease

ANI | Jan 25, 2017, 04.30 PM IST

 

<p>Eat mushrooms to prevent risk of Dementia, Alzheimer's disease<br></p>Eat mushrooms to prevent risk of Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease

According to researchers, certain edible and medicinal mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that may enhance nerve growth in the brain and protect against neurotoxic stimuli such as inflammation that contribute to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in Journal of Medicinal Food supports the potential role of mushrooms as functional foods to reduce or delay development of age-related neurodegeneration.

The researchers from University of Malaya in Malaysia discussed the scientific findings related to the health benefits of edible and culinary mushrooms.

It is estimated that as many as 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and, worldwide, 42 million cases are expected by 2020.

Despite the advancement of medication, the management of these diseases has remained largely ineffective.

The authors focus on the activity of bioactive components of mushrooms that may offer neuroprotective and cognitive benefits.

“In contrast to the body of literature on food ingredients that may benefit cardiometabolic diseases and cancer, very few studies have focused on food that may benefit neurodegenerative diseases,” explained study author Sampath Parthasarathy from University of Central Florida.

They found that each mushroom increased production of the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) – a molecule primarily involved in regulating growth, maintenance, proliferation and survival of certain nerve cells in the brain.

“The current study might stimulate the identification of more food materials that are neuroprotective,” Parthasarathy added.

source”cnbc”

Gestational diabetes may up postpartum depression risk

IANS | Jan 20, 2017, 06.30 PM IST

Gestational diabetes may up postpartum depression risk (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)Gestational diabetes may up postpartum depression risk (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)
Gestational diabetes is likely to raise the risk of depression after childbirth in first-time mothers, a study has found.

Gestational diabetes is a form of high blood sugar affecting pregnant women.

The findings showed that women with a history of depression are more than 20 times more likely to experience postpartum depression than mothers without a previous clinical diagnosis of depression.

“While having diabetes increases postpartum depression risk for all women, for those women who have had a past depressive episode, having diabetes during pregnancy makes it 70 per cent more likely that they will develop postpartum depression,” said lead author Michael E. Silverman, Assistant Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, US.

Postpartum depression can result in negative personal and child developmental outcomes.

In addition, the study found that among women with a history of depression, pre-gestational diabetes and mild preterm delivery increased the risk of postpartum depression.

On the other hand, in women who had no history of depression, young age, instrument-assisted or cesarean delivery, and moderate preterm delivery increased risk of postpartum depression.

Showing that a history of depression modifies some of the risks associated with obstetric and perinatal factors suggests that there may be different causal pathways of postpartum depression in women with and without a history of depression, the researchers said.

“Most practitioners think of these as two isolated and very different conditions, but we now understand gestational diabetes and postpartum depression should be considered together,” Silverman said.

For the study, published in the journal Depression and Anxiety the team included more than 700,000 first-time mothers from Sweden.

source”cnbc”

Healthy lifestyle reduces even genetic heart attack risk

Healthy lifestyle reduces even genetic heart attack risk (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)Healthy lifestyle reduces even genetic heart attack risk (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)
A recent study has found that even among those at high genetic risk, following a healthy lifestyle can cut in half the probability of a heart attack or similar event.

It is a well known fact that following a healthy lifestyle, not smoking, avoiding excess weight and exercising regularly can keep one away from risk of heart disease.

But what about people who have inherited gene variants known to increase risk?

“The basic message of our study is that DNA is not destiny,” says Sekar Kathiresan.

“Many individuals – both physicians and members of the general public — have looked on genetic risk as unavoidable, but for heart attack that does not appear to be the case.”

In order to investigate whether a healthy lifestyle can mitigate genetic risk, the multi-institutional research team analyzed genetic and clinical data from more than 55,000 participants in four large-scale studies.

Three of these — the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, the Women’s Genome Health Study, and the Malmo Diet and Cancer Study — are prospective studies that have followed participants for up to 20 years. The fourth, the BioImage Study, assessed a variety of risk factors, including the presence of atherosclerotic plaques in the coronary arteries when participants joined the study.

Each participant in the current analysis was assigned a genetic risk score, based on whether they carried any of 50 gene variants that previous studies associated with elevated heart attack risk. Based on data gathered when participants entered each study, the investigators used four AHA-defined lifestyle factors — no current smoking; lack of obesity, defined as a body mass index less than 30; physical exercise at least once a week, and a healthy dietary pattern — to determine a lifestyle score, whether participants had a favorable (three or four healthy factors), intermediate (two factors) or unfavorable (one or no healthy factors) lifestyle.

For participants in the prospective studies, the research team investigated how each individual’s genetic risk score and lifestyle factors related to the incidence of heart attack, the need for procedures designed to open blocked coronary arteries, or sudden cardiac death. Among participants in the BioImage study, genetic and lifestyle factors were compared to the extent of atherosclerotic disease in the coronary arteries at baseline.

Across all three prospective studies, a higher genetic risk score significantly increased the incidence of coronary events — as much as 90 percent in those at highest risk. While known risk factors such as a family history and elevated LDL cholesterol were also associated with an elevated genetic risk score, genetic risk was the most powerful contributor to cardiac risk.

Similarly, each healthy lifestyle factor reduced risk, and the unfavorable lifestyle group also had higher levels of hypertension, diabetes and other known risk factors upon entering the studies.

Within each genetic risk category, the presence of lifestyle factors significantly altered the risk of coronary events to such an extent that following a favorable lifestyle could reduce the incidence of coronary events by 50 percent in those with the highest genetic risk scores.

 source”cnbc”