Friday February 23, 2018

Indian-born scientist attempts treating hearts via urban forests (Science Feature)

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Indian-born scientist Aruni Bhatnagar is all set to install a $14.50 million “unique urban laboratory” in the US that will study the effect of green plantations on combating cardiovascular diseases. His research interests include cardiovascular effects of environmental pollutants, atherosclerosis, injury from loss of blood to the heart muscle, cardiovascular complications of diabetes and sepsis.

“We think trees might be more effective than statins in combating heart disease,” Bhatnagar told IANS on phone from Louisville, Kentucky.

Bhatnagar’s work has led to the creation of the new field of environmental cardiology.

A Lucknow University graduate with a bio-chemistry doctorate from the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), also in Lucknow, he is a professor and university scholar with Louisville’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology. He is also a fellow with the American Heart Association.

The Green Heart project involves the University of Louisville, the Nature Conservancy, the Institute for Healthy Air, Land and Soil and other partners that will transform four South Louisville neighbourhoods, home to about 22,000 residents, with 8,000 trees and other plantings.

Bhatnagar said the trees will not be samplings but mature foliage which will make a difference right away. Trees, shrubs and other plants will be placed where they can best soak up lung-damaging air pollution within the study area.

Researchers will track the health of about 700 residents to ascertain cardiovascular response to the plantation.

He said green spaces breathe in their own way, taking up the heat-trapping gas carbon dioxide while creating life-sustaining oxygen.

While trees produce volatile organic compounds — a source of ozone pollution — they also absorb ozone and other pollutants and trap especially dangerous tiny particles.

But “nobody has evaluated the specific health effects of planting green spaces”.

He said the effect of plantation on human health where people’s health is monitored before, during and after a major tree plantation drive has not been studied so far.

The health of people who live near the newly planted greenery will be compared to those who live elsewhere in the study area.

“We are hopeful to see changes in a few years,” he said. “It’s like a drug trial, with nature as the drug.”

Bhatnagar said he and his team wanted to test whether giving someone a statin for cardiovascular management is better or worse than giving one green surroundings.

In addition to studying cardiovascular health, researchers also plan to see if there are any changes in crime rates, stress, economics and other social-psycho outcomes.

Some studies suggest trees can help in those areas, too.

He said the Louisville research can be a potential game-changer in fighting heart disease.

“Though heart disease rates have been coming down, the rate has slowed and flattened out in the recent past. That’s why we thought we need to try something different,” he explained.

So far research has identified poor diet and lack of exercise with heart risk. We haven’t studied the impact of the environment in preventing or managing the cardiovascular situation in the urban population. About 70 percent of heart disease is preventable but it still accounts for the largest cause of deaths, Bhatnagar added.(IANS)

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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Eating Yogurt May Reduce Risk Of Heart Diseases

For the study, published in American Journal of Hypertension, researchers included over 55,000 women aged between 30-55 with high blood pressure from the Nurses' Health Study and 18,000 men aged between 40-75 who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study

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yogurt
Higher yogurt intake in women was associated with a 16 percent lower risk of undergoing revascularization. Pixabay

Higher intake of yogurt may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease among hypertensive men and women, a new study suggests.

According to the researchers, clinical trials have previously demonstrated beneficial effects of dairy consumption on cardiovascular health. Yogurt may independently be related to cardiovascular disease risk.

“Our results provide important new evidence that yogurt may benefit heart health alone or as a consistent part of a diet rich in fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains,” said co-author of the study Justin R. Buendia from the Boston University School of Medicine in the US.

ALSO READ: Worried About Your Heart’s Health? Make These 5 Spices a Part of Your Diet and See the Benefits Yourself!

For the study, published in American Journal of Hypertension, researchers included over 55,000 women aged between 30-55 with high blood pressure from the Nurses’ Health Study and 18,000 men aged between 40-75 who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

yogurt
In the Nurses’ Health Study, participants were asked to complete a mailed 61-item questionnaire in 1980 to report usual dietary intake in the preceding year. Pixabay

Participants subsequently reported any interim physician-diagnosed events including myocardial infarction, stroke, and revascularization.

The researchers found that higher intakes of yogurt were associated with a 30 percent reduction in risk of myocardial infarction among the Nurses’ Health Study women and a 19 percent reduction in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study men.

There were 3,300 and 2,148 total cardiovascular disease cases (myocardial infarction, stroke, and revascularization) in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, respectively, the researchers said.

ALSO READ: 4 Ways to Beat the Risk of Heart Attack in your 30s

In both groups, participants consuming more than two servings a week of yogurt had an approximately 20 percent lower risks of major coronary heart disease or stroke during the follow-up period.

When revascularization was added to the total cardiovascular disease outcome variable, the risk estimates were reduced for both men and women but remained significant.

Higher yogurt intake in combination with an overall heart-healthy diet was associated with greater reductions in cardiovascular disease risk among hypertensive men and women, the researchers noted. (IANS)