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Originally published November 8 2007

Emerging Risk Factors Revealed by the Framingham Heart Study

by Chad Larson

(NaturalNews) One out of three people will die of heart disease, currently one American life every 36 seconds. Heart disease has been the #1 killer in the United States for almost 100 years. In fact, without the flu pandemic of 1918 (which killed 500,000 people), heart disease would be the number killer for well over 100 years.

The current medical intervention for advanced coronary diseases includes balloon angioplasty, bypass surgery, heart transplant, and cardiac catheterization, all extremely traumatic and expensive procedures and all symptom management.

Fortunately, advances in functional medicine laboratory testing have allowed us to discover important early indicators that can significantly change the direction of therapeutic treatment and make it possible to stop a disease process before it starts.

Investigators from the nearly 60-year-long ongoing Framingham Heart Study indicate that high levels of the amino acid homocysteine may contribute to heart disease, stroke, and a reduced flow of blood to the hands and feet. Researchers believe that homocysteine may contribute to the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries, increase the stickiness of blood platelets (clotting), and make blood vessels less flexible, and less able to widen to allow increased blood flow.

Levels of this amino acid are related partly to a genetic mechanism (about 15% of cases) and to diet. The good news is that diet, especially one high in folic acid and B vitamins, favorably affects the levels of homocysteine. Diets high in vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables and beans) and low in animal protein have been shown to reduce levels of homocysteine.

In one study, for example, a diverse group of people participated in a week-long program that included a strict vegan diet, stress management and spirituality enhancement sessions, group support, and exclusion of tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. After only one week on the program, the average homocysteine level fell 13%. In this particular study, B vitamins known to reduce blood homocysteine levels were not provided, however, if needed, studies have also indicated taking vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid in supplement form can reduce serum homocysteine levels.


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About the author

Dr. Chad Larson is a chiropractor and a clinical nutritionist who specializes in treating people who are fighting or preventing chronic degenerative conditions. He promotes an integrative approach in his clinical practice in Encinitas, California. He is also the Chief Clinical Nutritionist for Pure Prescriptions, Inc.

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