Heart Disease and Stroke - Mechanisms/Disease Processes

Specifics relating to the development of heart disease and disease mechanisms

Changes in plasma phospholipid fatty acids and their relationship to disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with a vegetarian diet.

In a controlled clinical trial we have recently shown that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) improved after fasting for 7-10 d and that the improvement could be sustained through 3.5 months with a vegan diet and 9 months with a lactovegetarian diet. Other studies have indicated that the inflammatory process in RA can be reduced through manipulation of dietary fatty acids. A switch to a vegetarian diet significantly alters the intake of fatty acids.

Vegetarian diet components, protein and blood pressure: which nutrients are important?

1. Evidence that vegetarian dietary patterns lower blood pressure (BP) comes from both population studies and randomized controlled trials in normotensive and hypertensive subjects. 2. The effect has been shown most clearly in those who keep to a strict lacto-ovo vegetarian diet characterized by a relatively low intake of saturated fat, a high polyunsaturated/saturated fat ratio, and a high intake of fruit, vegetables and other fibre containing products.

A preliminary fast may potentiate response to a subsequent low-salt, low-fat vegan diet in the management of hypertension - fasting as a strategy for breaking metabolic vicious cycles.

Although a salted diet appears to be a sine qua non for the development of essential hypertension, low-salt diets often have a modest or even negligible impact on the blood pressure of hypertensives; this suggests that salt, perhaps often acting in concert with other aspects of a modern, rich diet, may set in place certain metabolic vicious cycles that sustain blood pressure elevation even when dietary salt is eliminated.

A moderately low phosphate intake may provide health benefits analogous to those conferred by UV light - a further advantage of vegan diets.

Although exposure to ultraviolet light is often viewed as pathogenic owing to its role in the genesis of skin cancer and skin aging, there is growing epidemiological evidence that such exposure may decrease risk for a number of more serious cancers, may have a favorable impact on blood pressure and vascular health, and may help to prevent certain autoimmune disorders - in addition to its well-known influence on bone density. Most likely, these health benefits are reflective of improved vitamin D status.

A taurine-supplemented vegan diet may blunt the contribution of neutrophil activation to acute coronary events.

Neutrophils are activated in the coronary circulation during acute coronary events (unstable angina and myocardial infarction), often prior to the onset of ischemic damage. Moreover, neutrophils infiltrate coronary plaque in these circumstances, and may contribute to the rupture or erosion of this plaque, triggering thrombosis. Activated neutrophils secrete proteolytic enzymes in latent forms which are activated by the hypochlorous acid (HOCl) generated by myeloperoxidase.

Blood pressure regulation and vegetarian diets.

Hypertension affects approximately 50 million individuals in the United States and approximately 1 billion worldwide. Although heredity plays a role in blood pressure variability, diet and lifestyle exert considerable influence in blood pressure regulation. This report reviews the evidence of the relationship between a vegetarian diet and blood pressure regulation and presents data as to the putative mechanisms of action.

Homocysteine, circulating vascular cell adhesion molecule and carotid atherosclerosis in postmenopausal vegetarian women and omnivores.

Since the adoption of vegetarian diets as a healthy lifestyle has become popular, the cardiovascular effects of long-term vegetarianism need to be explored. The present study aimed to compare the presence and severity of carotid atherosclerosis (CA), and the blood levels of Vitamin B12, homocysteine (Hcy) and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) between 57 healthy postmenopausal vegetarians and 61 age-matched omnivores. Carotid atherosclerosis, as measured by ultrasound, was found to be of no significant difference between the two groups.

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