Cardiovascular Health (General)

See also:

Cholesterol

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Fish oils

Studies strongly suggest that EPA from fish oils can lower various risk factors for cardiovascular disease (independent of any blood cholesterol-lowering effect). These effects include an antithrombotic effect, lipid (triglyceride) lowering, reduced blood and plasma viscosity, and improvements in endothelial dysfunction. Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to inhibit the activity of a chemical called thromboxane.

Thromboxane is a potent vasoconstrictor and causes platelets to aggregate (stick together). It is therefore implicated in the development of blood clots and other vascular disorders. The favourable influence of omega 3 fatty acids is attributed, among other things, to the fact that these nutrients have an inhibiting influence on the biological activity of thromboxane. An American study determined that people who consume monthly quantities of seafood containing a total of 5.5 grams of long-chain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, (corresponding with one meal of fatty fish a week), have 50% less chance of a primary cardiac arrest than people whose daily menu does not contain these fatty acids.

Glycine Propionyl L-Carnifine (gPLC)

Approximately 60-70% of the energy made in the heart comes from fatty acids, which yield more adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy molecule, than glucose. Fatty acid metabolism occurs in the mitochondria in a process called beta-oxidation and is reliant on carnitine, which shuttles fatty acids across the mitochondria! membrane as well as ensuring the efficient removal of metabolic by-products.

In a randomised, single-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 30 heart failure patients, oral administration of 1.5 grams/day of propionyl-L-carnitine for t month resulted in significantly improved measures of exercise tolerance and a slight but significant decrease in left ventricular size compared to placebo . A larger randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial compared the addition of propionyl-L-carnitine (1.5 grams/day) to the treatment regime of 271 heart failure patients to a placebo in 266 patients for 6 months. Exercise tolerance was significantly improved in those taking propionyl-L-carnitine compared to placebo, suggesting that propionyl-L-carnitine may help to improve exercise tolerance in heart failure patients.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQIO)

CoQIO, which is needed for energy production in the heart muscle, is frequently deficient in those with cardiovascular disease. The energy produced is used by the heart muscle for the mechanical pumping action which ensures effective circulation of the blood through the vascular system. CoQIO is also a powerful antioxidant, which offers protection of blood lipids and helps reduce the risk of atherosclerosis which would impede circulation and put further pressure on the heart. CoQIO has been shown to regulate blood pressure, relieve angina and strengthen the heart and is often used in combination with L-carmtinc to ensure efficient heart energy production.

Vitamin E

Research has shown that vitamin E supplementation reduces the risk of heart disease by approximately 40% and the rate of heart attacks in those with heart disease by more than 75%. These benefits appear to be primarily due to the prevention of damaging factors such as oxidation of cholesterol, arterial injury and excessive blood clotting. Vitamin E is synergistic with other  antioxidants, especially selenium, suggesting that a daily intake that includes a variety of antioxidants is the best recommendation.

 Trimefhyiglycine (TMG), Folic Acid, B12 and B6

Research shows that homocysteine, an intermediate metabolite of methionine, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by damaging the arteries. In fact, measurement of homocysteine is thought to be 40 times more predictive of heart disease risk than cholesterol. The methyl donors TMG, folic acid and B12 facilitate the recycling of homocysteine back into methionine, while B6 is required for the metabolism of homocysteine into cystathionine. An adequate intake of these nutrients is therefore essential in promoting cardiovascular health via their influence on homocysteine levels.

D-Ribose

D-Ribose improves oxygen utilisation efficiency in congestive heart failure patients. This is very important because the efficiency of oxygen utilisation is a strong predictor of morbidity and mortality in this patient population.

Other studies show that ribose improves diastolic cardiac function, exercise tolerance, and quality of life in patients with coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. Still other studies show that ribose increases the anaerobic energy reserve of healthy hearts.

In one study of 20 men (aged 45 to 69 years) with severe coronary artery disease and a history of angina induced by normal daily activities, 60 grams of ribose (in four doses of 15 grams each} were tested against placebo. Treated subjects exhibited  improvement in EGG readings and reduced time to onset of moderate angina (during exercise testing). No improvements were noted in the placebo group.

Pomegranate

Numerous studies have demonstrated the cardio-protective properties of the antioxidants found in pomegranate. In one study published by the American Journal of cardiologists, 45 patients with ischemic heart disease (in which not enough blood gets to the heart muscle) were given either 8 ounces pomegranate juice or placebo over a period of three months. Those who took the  omegranate juice had significantly less oxygen deficiency to the heart during exercise, suggesting increased blood flow to the heart. Pomegranate juice has shown the ability to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol- a process that contributes to atherosclerosis. By neutralizing free radicals, the antioxidants within pomegranate juice may be effective in the prevention of plaque within the arteries.

One study showed a 30 percent reduction in arterial plaque in patients given pomegranate juice. Additionally, according to some researchers, pomegranate juice may also reduce plaque that has already built up in blood vessels.

Nitric oxide is a chemical compound that acts as an important signalling molecule in the body. It signals the smooth muscle fibres to relax, which improves circulation.

This action may be especially relevant in preventing conditions such as hypertension and congestive heart failure (CHF). Research has found that pomegranate juice may help to preserve the body’s levels of nitric oxide, thereby maintaining healthy blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the heart.

Resveratrol

Much of the research into the effects of red wine has focused on its potential cardiovascular benefits. Resveratrol appears to prevent platelet aggregation (reduces excessive blood clotting), an action thought to be linked to the inhibition of compounds that promote platelet stickiness and vasoconstriction. Resveratrol has also demonstrated significant inhibition of LDL cholesterol oxidation, a major risk factor in heart disease.

 Vitamin K2

In studies, Vitamin K2 has been shown to lead to a reduction in coronary heart disease. In fact one significant study conducted in the Netherlands, followed 4800 healthy men and women for ten years. It found vitamin K2 reduced the risk of coronary heart disease mortality by 50%. Furthermore, aortic calcification was reduced by 30-40%. Osteoregulatory proteins are involved in the calcification process in blood vessels, and one of the strongest inhibitors of these proteins is matrix Gla protein (MGP), which directly inhibits the formation of calcium crystals. However, MGP is only effective in the presence of vitamin K2.

Additional research concluded that vitamin Kl did not have these effects as it immediately gets taken away into the liver. Vitamin K2, however, remains circulating in the blood, making it available to the vessels.

Cardiovascular Health Summary

Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range

Fish oils1

Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine (gPLC)2

CoenzymeQ10(CoQ10}3

Vitamin E (with other antioxidant nutrients]4

B Complex including Folic acid, B6 & Bl 2

TMG (especially when homocysteine is known to be elevated)

D-Ribose5

Pomegranate6

Resveratrol 7

Vitamin K27

300 – 1 450mg EPA

500 – 2000mg per day

30 – 200mg per day

1 00 – 4001U per day

Folic400ug/B650mg, B12 500ug

1 OOOmg per day

3-10 grams per day

900mg per day

1 00-200rng_per day

lOOmcg per day

Reduce/avoid Increase

Saturated fat

Trans fat

Sugar

Refined carbohydrates

Red meat

Fried foods

Alcohol

Vegetarian proteins

Oily fish

Vegetables

Fruit

Nuts and seeds

Whole grains

Fibre

Lifestyle Factors

Vegetarian diets are associated with lower incidence of cardiovascular disease

Achieve ideal body weight

Take regular exercise

Stop smoking

Footnotes

1. Do not take in conjunction with anticoagulant medication

2. Concurrent use with prescription medication only under medical supervision.

3. Use under medical supervision if taking Warfarin as CoQIO reduces the effectiveness of Warfarin. Concurrent use with heart medication only under medical supervision.

Avoid concurrent use of high dose vitamin E supplements with Warfarin and other anticoagulant medication. May reduce insulin requirement in insulin-dependent diahetes and should therefore he used under supervision by diabetics.

May cause increased uric levels so should be avoided by those with gout. May cause hypoglycaemia so diabetics should use with caution and under medical supervision. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do not use when pregnant or breastfeeding unless under medical supervision.

Do not use if taking anticoagulant medication such as warfarin.