Could something as simple as taking a vitamin lower or even eliminate your risk of heart disease? The results of two research studies indicate that the answer is “Yes.”
In the first study, researchers followed 9,400 patients for a year. The participants had low Vitamin D levels at the beginning of the 12-month period. By the end of the study, 47 percent of the group who had increased their Vitamin D levels had also lowered their risk of heart disease.
The second study was much larger in scale, with 31,000 patients participating. They were divided into three groups for tracking purposes. In each of the groups, the patients who increased their levels of Vitamin D to 43 nanograms/mL of blood had lower rates for the following health conditions:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
A “normal” level of Vitamin D in the blood was considered 30 nanograms/mL. Now, researchers have discovered that this level is too low. Heidi May, Ph.D., a cardiovascular clinical epidemiologist at Murray, Utah’s Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, the study’s author, stated, “Giving physicians a higher level to look for gives them one more tool in identifying patients at-risk and offering them better treatment.”
A person who is concerned about his or her Vitamin D levels can see their doctor for a blood test to measure the current level. If the results show the levels are low, Vitamin D supplements can be taken. Since Vitamin D is also known as the “Sunshine Vitamin,” increasing time spent out of doors can give the levels a boost. Sunscreen should always be worn before going outside, especially during times when the sun’s rays are at their most intense. This is between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is positioned directly overhead in the sky.
Most people who experience a heart attack outside of a hospital setting are struck by it in their homes, according to the American Heart Association. People with coronary heart disease are at a high risk for this type of event, and getting your cholesterol checked regularly can help to determine whether you are one of them.
Adults should start getting their cholesterol levels checked when they are 20. If the results are in the normal range (total cholesterol under 200 mg/dl), then the test can be repeated at five year intervals. If the test results show a problem, then doctors can suggest ways to lower the levels to a healthier level.
When making changes to the patient’s diet and increasing physical activity aren’t effective at controlling the cholesterol levels, then the doctor can consider prescribing medications to bring the levels down.
Attention all chocoholics! If you have had a heart attack, eating the sweet stuff may help to prevent a recurrence. A study conducted by researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute were looking at whether eating chocolate affects the risk for heart disease.
Antioxidants, such as the flavonol in cocoa, may help to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow throughout the body. The 1,169 participants in the study were between 45-70 years of age. All of them had had at least one heart attack. They were asked a series of questions about their diet.
The results indicated that study participants who ate chocolate were less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack. Before you run out to the store to stock up on the sweet stuff, consider that the study results are not the same thing as a clinical trial where the participants are more closely monitored.
Many of us remember peanut butter sandwiches as a quick, simple option for lunch. Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that eating peanuts or consuming peanut butter a minimum of five times a week will cut your risk of heart heart attack by a whopping 50 percent.
The reason why eating peanut butter lowers the risk is because peanut products are high in mono and polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fat. Food that are high in mono and polyunsaturated fats will lower LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) levels in the body. The results of the study also indicated that eating peanut butter may help to lower inflammation in the body.
You don’t have to start slathering peanut butter on everything you eat to get the health benefits of peanuts. A serving is a tablespoon of peanut butter or one ounce of peanuts.