The Secret to Clean Arteries

The Secret to Clean ArteriesParaoxonase-1, better known as PON-1, is the secret to clean arteries. This enzyme plays a critical role in protecting arteries from plaque build-up by enhancing the removal of cholesterol from the walls of arteries. PON-1 is attached to high-density lipoproteins (HDL).

PON-1 does more than just cleanse arterial walls of plaque, it also protects against lipid oxidation. Oxidized fats and cholesterol are more prone to stick to artery walls, creating unstable plaques. Unstable plaques rupture, causing rapid occlusion of blood flow to vital organs such as the heart and brain.

PON-1 helps to stabilize plaques by inhibiting chronic inflammation and platelet activation—factors that can all lead to plaque rupture.

As humans age, PON-1 levels markedly decline, thereby reducing the ability of HDL to protect against heart attack and stroke. This phenomenon helps explain the onset of accelerated atherosclerosis; where within a period of only a few years, an aging person’s healthy arteries rapidly occlude with plaque.

The age-related reduction in PON-1 may also explain studies showing that statin drugs lose their benefit in certain aging populations, since the effects of statins are no longer sufficient to protect against the multiple factors involved in the development of atherosclerosis in the elderly.1-3

How to Boost PON-1 Activity

1. Pomegranate

The most recent research indicates that pomegranate and its extracts can significantly elevate levels of PON-1 activity in the body. Pomegranate does this through a number of distinct biomolecular pathways that include combating inflammation and LDL adhesion and favorably modulating gene expression.

Pomegranate extracts reduce oxidation and inflammation largely through their effect on PON-1 activity, intervening at each step in the development of atherosclerosis.4

2. Resveratrol

Strong evidence has recently emerged for several compounds with known cardio-protective effects that may also favorably increase your PON-1 levels.

Moderate consumption of wine, beer, and spirits is associated with an increase in PON-1 activity. Red wine polyphenols increase PON-1 activity and reduce LDL oxidation.

Resveratrol is the best-known of the red wine polyphenols. It exerts powerful control over the PON-1 gene, increasing PON-1 expression in human liver cells and protecting against atherosclerosis in animal models.5

3. Quercetin

Quercetin is another polyphenol found in red wine and many other plant sources. It also up-regulates PON-1 gene expression, protecting against fat and cholesterol oxidation.

Quercetin possesses numerous mechanisms that help stabilize and preserve PON-1 activity against oxidative stress.6

References

  1. Okumachi Y, Yokono K. Anti-aging medicine: the evidence to the value of the antihypertensive drugs, hypoglycemic drugs and statins. Nippon Rinsho. 2009 Jul;67(7):1372-6.
  2. Kekes E. Combined antihypertensive and antilipemic therapy as one of the pillars in the poly-pharmacologic preventive strategy for patients with high cardiovascular risk. Orv Hetil. 2008 Sep 28;149(39):1827-37.
  3. Gouedard C, Koum-Besson N, Barouki R, Morel Y. Opposite regulation of the human paraoxonase-1 gene PON-1 by fenofibrate and statins. Mol Pharmacol. 2003 Apr;63(4):945-56.
  4. Aviram M, Dornfeld L, Rosenblat M, et al. Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 May;71(5):1062-76.
  5. Do GM, Kwon EY, Kim HJ, et al. Long-term effects of resveratrol supplementation on suppression of atherogenic lesion formation and cholesterol synthesis in apo E-deficient mice. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Sep 12;374(1):55-9.
  6. Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Billecke S, et al. Human serum paraoxonase (PON 1) is inactivated by oxidized low density lipoprotein and preserved by antioxidants. Free Radic Biol Med. 1999 Apr;26(7-8):892-904.

Stopping Heart Disease: Seven Lifesaving Blood Tests Your Doctor Doesn’t Order!

By Steven V. Joyal, MD

Stopping  Heart Disease Consider a beautiful Sunday afternoon in springtime, the smell of flowers, trees, and grass emerging from a long winter.

Now, imagine the sudden onset of crushing pain across your rib cage, shortness of breath, and a cold sweat across your face and back. A beautiful spring day, interrupted by the classic symptoms of a heart attack!

If you don’t want this to happen to you, prevention is critical, and an important part of an over-all prevention strategy is to detect risk factors for heart disease early in the course of the disease. Although the symptoms of an acute heart attack may appear suddenly, the underlying disease (called coronary atherosclerosis) that ultimately results in a heart attack occurs over many years.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and about every 25 seconds one of us will suffer a heart attack.  Annual blood testing plays an important role in helping to identify risk factors early in the course of vascular disease. Regrettably, many doctors are not aware of several blood tests that offer great benefit at detecting cardiac risk factors beyond those detected with typical, routine testing. At your next physical, be sure to take this list of seven lifesaving blood tests with you so that you and your doctor can help identify heart disease risk factors early, rather than too late. 

1. HbA1c

Elevated blood sugar is a significant risk factor for heart disease, even if you don’t have diabetes. Routine testing usually includes a fasting blood sugar level, but a far more accurate measurement of your blood sugar control over a three-month period of time is the hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test. This test is usually given only to diabetics, yet all of us need to fully understand the risks associated with high blood sugar.  If your HbA1c level is not optimal (over 5.7), you need to achieve better control over your blood sugar levels. Weight loss, exercise, and diet are three time-proven strategies of achieving better blood sugar control. Nutrients like cinnamon, soluble fiber, and the exotic-sounding Indian Ayurvedic herbal medicine Gymnema sylvestre can help, too.

2. Fibrinogen

Increasingly, scientists have discovered that inflammation plays a deadly role in most degenerative diseases.  Fibrinogen levels increase in response to inflammation in our body.  Recent studies suggest that elevated fibrinogen levels are an independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke in patients with decreased vascular circulation (peripheral artery disease).  If your fibrinogen levels are elevated, weight loss and physical activity can help. Also, consider fish oil, niacin, and folic acid, in addition to vitamins A and C, to support healthy fibrinogen levels.

3. Homocysteine

Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, bone fracture risk, and cognitive function including depression.  If your blood tests reveal elevated homocysteine levels, B-vitamins like folic acid, B12, and B6 can help support healthy homocysteine metabolism.

4. C-reactive protein

Elevated levels of C-reactive protein indicate your body is under assault from inflammation. This important test can help you ward off some of the most lethal diseases before they begin.  Studies suggest that C-reactive protein is a risk factor for a host of diseases including cardiac disease, macular degeneration and arthritic conditions.  For those with elevated CRP, a low dose of daily aspirin can be helpful.  Also, natural therapies like fish oil, L-carnitine, and soluble fiber can help support healthy levels of C-reactive protein.

5. TSH

Our thyroid gland is the master metabolic regulator of our key body functions.  Signs and symptoms of a significantly overactive or underactive thyroid are easy to recognize for most physicians. Studies show that mild thyroid disease can increase the levels of cholesterol in the blood, contribute to weight gain, and increase the risk of heart rhythm disturbances.  A screening test for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) starting at age 35, and every five years thereafter, is a good strategy to identify subtle thyroid malfunction early.

6. 25-hydroxy vitamin D

The remarkable benefits of vitamin D extend across the entire health spectrum. Produced in the skin during exposure to sunlight in the ultraviolet-B spectrum, vitamin D is also available as a low-cost dietary supplement (vitamin D3, cholecalciferol). Over thirty different cell types, including bone, vascular, brain, muscle, and immune system cells contain receptors for activated vitamin D. Recent scientific studies show that low levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer (e.g. breast, prostate), cardiovascular disease, and even the flu. Despite the enormous health benefits associated with optimal vitamin D status, the vast majority of us are insufficient, with some research suggesting as much as 80% of the population may not have optimal blood serum levels. A simple blood test can detect your vitamin D status. If you avoid sun exposure out of concern over skin cancer and premature skin aging, the latest research suggests that you will need somewhere between 2,000-8,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D3 daily to achieve optimal serum levels.

7. Advanced lipoprotein profiling

The information you obtain with advanced lipoprotein testing provides a wealth of detail on important parameters of heart disease risk, much more than the standard cholesterol profile.  For example, we know that small, dense LDL-cholesterol particles are far more plaque-producing than large, fluffy LDL-cholesterol particles. A standard cholesterol test does not differentiate between small, dense LDL and fluffy, buoyant LDL. Another example is the so-called “good” cholesterol, HDL. Standard cholesterol tests do not tell us if you have more of the favorable HDL2 subclass of particles or the less favorable HDL3, while advanced lipoprotein tests evaluate for HDL2 and HDL3 cholesterol. Several different types of advanced lipoprotein tests are available based upon your individual needs.

Men should not stop using Avodart because of heart attack fears! Life Extension’s Rebuttle

Life Extension’s rebuttal by William Faloon in reference to published clinical study in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine on Avodart and increased risk for sudden myocardial infarction.

I suspect none of the study participants where using testosterone creams, even though they were ALL likely to be testosterone deficient. You will soon read the findings of an internal study we did on Life Extension Foundation members that found 86% of men have less than optimal testosterone levels.

The significance of this is that testosterone deficiency predisposes a man to heart failure. By taking a drug like Avodart when in a testosterone deficient state, the heart muscle will be robbed completely of this vital anabolic hormone. That may be why this study showed higher heart failure rates in the Avodart group.

 Those with prostate cancer often intentionally suppress their testosterone levels and have to be extra vigilant in protecting against heart attack. Log on to http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2009/mag2009_05.htm for information on how to protect against multiple risk factors underlying coronary atherosclerosis.

 Aging men (without prostate cancer) should do whatever is necessary to maintain free testosterone blood levels of 20-25 pg/mL, while keeping DHT blood levels at the very low end of the reference range.

This provides the heart, brain and other vital parts their testosterone requirements while protecting the prostate gland against the adverse effects of excess DHT.

 The Avodart study exposes the flaws in so many of these single agent trials. We know, for example, that 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum levels strongly predict prostate cancer risk. If this potent confounding factor was not accounted for, then the results shown with Avodart have little meaning.

If, for example the placebo group’s median 25-hydoxyvitamin D level was 35 ng/mL, and the Avodart group was only 25 ng/mL, this would skew the results in a way to show Avodart less effective than it may really be. Dietary intakes of cruciferous vegetables would have an equally significant confounding effect.

 Bill Faloon

Western diet accountable for nearly a third of the world’s heart attack risk

Western diet accountable for nearly a third of the world’s heart attack risk

An article published online on October 21, 2008 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association estimates that the diet typically consumed in Western countries, consisting of high amounts of meat, fried foods, and salty snacks, is responsible for approximately 30 percent of heart attack risk worldwide.

Salim Yusuf, DPhil and colleagues analyzed data from the INTERHEART study of heart attack risk factors among 16,000 participants in 52 countries. Five thousand seven hundred sixty-one participants diagnosed with heart attack were compared to 10,646 participants without known heart disease. The subjects were interviewed concerning dietary intake, including healthy as well as unhealthy food consumption. The researchers identified three dietary patterns, which they labeled as Oriental, prudent or Western. Oriental diets were characterized by a higher intake of tofu, soy, and other sauces, the prudent pattern contained a greater intake of fruit and vegetables, and the Western diet included an increased amount of meat, eggs, salty snacks and fried foods.

While followers of a “prudent” diet had a 30 percent lower average heart attack risk compared with people who consumed few fruits and vegetables, those who reported a Western dietary pattern experienced a 35 percent greater risk of heart attack than those who consumed few or no fried foods or meat.

The Oriental pattern showed no effect on heart attack risk. While some components of an Oriental diet appear to help protect the heart, the researchers suggest that the diet’s high sodium content could modify this benefit.

“A simple dietary score, which included both good and bad foods with the higher score indicating a worse diet, showed that 30 percent of the risk of heart disease in a population could be related to poor diet,” concluded lead author Romania Iqbal.

“The objective of this study was to understand the modifiable risk factors of heart attacks at a global level,” stated Dr Yusuf, who is a professor of medicine at McMaster University and director of the Population Health Research Institute at Hamilton Health Sciences in Ontario, Canada. “This study indicates that the same relationships that are observed in Western countries exist in different regions of the world.”