*Just one extra banana, avocado daily could prevent cardiac attacks, stroke
*Vitamin K in kale, spinach, broccoli, green vegetables keeps organ pumping
Researchers have linked low blood calcium levels to an increased risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Calcium is best known for its role in bone health, but a new study suggests that its role in heart health should not be overlooked. It was found that people with low levels of calcium in their blood may be at greater risk of sudden cardiac arrest, one of the leading cause of death in the United States.
Lead investigator Dr. Sumeet S. Chugh, of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, CA, and colleagues believe that their findings may pave the way for much-needed new diagnostic and treatment strategies for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
The researchers recently reported their findings in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. SCA is when the heart suddenly stops beating. This is due to a malfunction in the heart’s electrical activity, which causes an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia.
Also, a new research suggests that just one extra banana or avocado a day could prevent heart attacks and stroke. Potassium-rich foods may stop fatal blockages from occurring by preventing arteries from hardening, a study found. Previous research reveals stiff, inflexible arteries increase a person’s risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
The researchers believe potassium regulates genes that maintain artery flexibility. The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight.
Study author Dr. Paul Sanders from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, said: “The findings demonstrate the benefit of adequate potassium supplementation on prevention of vascular [hardening].”
The researchers analyzed mice who are at-risk of heart disease when fed a high-fat diet. The mice were given either low, normal or high levels of potassium.
Results reveal the arteries of mice fed a low-potassium diet became significantly harder. The animals given high potassium had substantially less artery hardening.
Mice fed potassium-rich food also had reduced stiffness in their aorta, which is the body’s main artery. This is thought to be due to low-potassium levels in the blood preventing the expression of genes that maintain artery flexibility.
Sanders said: “The findings have important translational potential since they demonstrate the benefit of adequate potassium supplementation on prevention of vascular calcification in atherosclerosis-prone mice and the adverse effect of low-potassium intake.”
Meanwhile, a new study suggests that eating your greens for a healthy heart. Vitamin K, which is found in kale, spinach and broccoli, maintains the size of the vital organ’s left ventricle, a study found, which is responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood around the body.
The findings were published in The Journal of Nutrition. Insufficient levels of the vitamin cause the left ventricle to enlarge, the research adds. Previous research reveals large hearts do not pump blood as efficiently as they should, which can result in fatal heart attacks. The more vitamin K a person has, the less likely they are to develop an enlarged heart, the study found. Past research suggests vitamin K may activate a protein involved in maintaining heart size. Researchers from Augusta University analyzed 766 healthy teenagers aged between 14 and 18.
The study’s participant’s diet and activity levels were measured over seven days via self-reporting and devices that assess acceleration. Their heart’s structure and function was investigated via ultrasound scans. Results reveal consuming insufficient amounts of vitamin K substantially increases the size of an individual’s left ventricle. The left ventricle is the thickest of the four heart chambers and is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood around the body.
The more vitamin K a person has, the less likely they are to develop thick muscle in their left ventricle. Previous research reveals enlarged hearts are less able to pump blood around the body, which can result in fatal heart attacks.Past studies also suggest vitamin K activates a substance, known as the matrix Gla protein, involved in maintaining heart size.
According to the current trial’s researchers, their findings ‘clarify the importance of [vitamin K] intake to cardiovascular development’. They add the results could ‘lead to [vitamin K] interventions in childhood aimed to improve cardiovascular development and to reduce the subsequent risk of [cardiovascular disease].’
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), around 350,000 out-of-hospital SCAs occur in the U.S. every year, and almost 90 percent of people who experience SCA die as a result. While coronary heart disease is considered the primary cause of SCA, Dr. Chugh and colleagues note that around half of women and around 70 percent of men who die from SCA have no clinical history of heart disease.
Such statistics highlight the desperate need for ways to identify people who are at increased risk of SCA, as well to find new treatments for the condition. Could the new research from Dr. Chugh and colleagues help to meet this need? The researchers gathered data from the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study. They identified 267 people who experienced SCA between 2002 and 2015, alongside 445 healthy controls.
The blood calcium levels of each subject were measured as part of the study. For SCA patients, these measurements were taken in the 90 days before their cardiac arrest. Calcium is an essential mineral present in an abundance of foods, primarily dairy products such as milk and cheese. Researchers have linked high calcium levels to increased risk of heart attack.
The team then divided the patients into groups based on their blood calcium levels and looked at whether or not these levels might be associated with the risk of SCA. The results revealed that the risk of SCA was increased by 2.3-fold for participants who had the lowest blood calcium levels (under 8.95 milligrams per deciliter) compared with those who had the highest blood calcium levels (9.55 milligrams per deciliter).
These results remained after accounting for a number of possible confounding factors, including cardiovascular risk factors, medication use, and demographics.”This is the first report to show that low serum calcium levels measured close in time to the index event are independently associated with an increased risk of SCA in the general population,” says Dr. Hon-Chi Lee, of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, in an editorial linked to the study.
The team notes that participants who experienced SCA were more likely to have diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic kidney disease than the controls, and there was a higher percentage of African American subjects in the SCA group.Chugh and team say that their findings should be interpreted with caution, and that the link between blood calcium levels and SCA risk should be investigated in future research.
“Overall,” concludes Dr. Chugh, “it seems that further study is required to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the adverse associations with lower calcium levels and to determine whether controlling calcium levels improves the prognosis in the general population or in high-risk patients.”
However, they believe that their results indicate that low blood calcium levels could be a risk factor for SCA.”Although our findings may not be ready for routine clinical use in patients at this time, they are a step toward the goal of improving patient care by better prediction of risk,” Yarmohammadi adds.