Genes that protect against atherosclerosis identified

One way of combating atherosclerosis is to reduce levels of “bad cholesterol” in the blood. Scientists at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have now identified the genes that bring about this beneficial effect.

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The missing link between belly fat and heart disease?

By now, everyone knows that overweight people have a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and other problems that arise from clogged, hardened arteries. And people who carry their extra weight around their waist – giving them a “beer belly” or an “apple” shape — have the highest risk of all.But despite the impact on human health, the reasons behind this connection between heart disease and belly fat – also known as visceral fat — have eluded scientists. Now, a new study in mice gives the first direct evidence of why this link might exist – and a tantalizing look at how it might be broken.
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Lipoic acid could reduce atherosclerosis, weight gain

A new study done with mice has discovered that supplements of lipoic acid can inhibit formation of arterial lesions, lower triglycerides, and reduce blood vessel inflammation and weight gain – all key issues for addressing cardiovascular disease.

Although the results cannot be directly extrapolated beyond the laboratory, researchers report that “they strongly suggest that lipoic acid supplementation may be useful as an inexpensive but effective intervention strategy . . . reducing known risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis and other inflammatory vascular diseases in humans.”

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Eating your greens could prove life-saving if a heart attack strikes

A diet rich in leafy vegetables may minimize the tissue damage caused by heart attacks, according to researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Their findings, published in the November 12 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that the chemical nitrite, found in many vegetables, could be the secret ingredient in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.

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Researchers discover novel pathway for increasing ‘good’ cholesterol

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered that a group of liver enzymes called proprotein convertases (PCs) may be the key to raising levels of good cholesterol (HDL-C). The pathway by which these proteins are able to achieve an increase in HDL cholesterol involves another enzyme that normally degrades HDL-C, and was also discovered at Penn. The newly recognized relationship between these enzymes and cholesterol represents another target for ultimately controlling good cholesterol.

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It’s not too late to change and lower cardiac risk later in life

Can adopting a healthier lifestyle later in life help — or is it too late? In a study published in the July 2007 issue of The American Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston found that people 45 to 64 years of age who added healthy lifestyle behaviors could substantially reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and reduce their death rate. Once these people achieved 4 healthy behaviors, eating at least 5 fruits and vegetables daily, exercising at least 2.5 hours per week, maintaining their Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 30 kg/m, and not smoking, investigators saw a 35% reduction in CVD incidence and a 40% reduction in mortality compared to people with less healthy lifestyles.

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Precursor Cells Generated From Human Embryonic Stem Cells Show Ability to Repair Vascular Damage

Scientists reported for the first time that hemangioblast precursor cells derived from human embryonic stem (hES) cells can be used to achieve vascular repair.

The research, which appears today online (ahead of print) in the journal Nature Methods, by Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) and its collaborators, describes an efficient method for generating large numbers of bipotential progenitors–known as hemangioblasts–from hES cells that are capable of differentiating into blood vessels, as well as into all blood and immune cell lineages.
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