Medical First: Watching Effects of Hi-Carb Food on Arteries
(Israelnationalnews.com) Using a clinical technique pioneered by his laboratory in Israel, Dr. Michael Shechter of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine and the Heart Institute of Sheba Medical Center was able to visualize what happens inside our arteries before, during and after eating high carb foods.
Doctors have known for decades that foods like white bread and corn flakes aren’t good for cardiac health. But, this new landmark study shows exactly how these high carb foods increase the risk for heart problems.
“Looking inside” the arteries of students eating a variety of foods, Dr. Shechter was able to visualize that foods with a high glycemic index caused swelling of brachial arteries in the upper arm for several hours.
Elasticity of arteries anywhere in the body can be a measure of heart health. But when aggravated over time, a sudden expansion of the artery wall can cause a number of negative health effects, including reduced elasticity, which can cause heart disease or sudden death.
Time to skip the wedding cake?
“It’s very hard to predict heart disease,” says Dr. Shechter, a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. “But doctors know that high glycemic foods rapidly increase blood sugar. Those who excessively indulge in these foods have a greater chance of sudden death from heart attack. Our research connects the dots, showing the link between diet and what’s happening in real time in the arteries.”
Like the uncomfortable medical warnings on packets of cigarettes, this new research could lead to a whole new way to show patients the effects of a poor diet on our body. It is a first in medical history seeing precisely what happens inside the body when the wrong foods for a healthy heart are eaten. The results were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Using 56 healthy volunteers, the researchers looked at four groups. One group ate a cornflake mush mixed with milk, a second a pure sugar mixture, the third bran flakes, while the last group was given a placebo (water). Over four weeks, Dr. Shechter applied his method of “brachial reactive testing” to each group. The test uses a cuff on the arm, like those used to measure blood pressure, which can visualize arterial function in real time.
The results were dramatic. Before any of the fasting patients ate, arterial function was essentially the same. After eating, except for the placebo group, all had reduced functioning.
All roads lead to the walls of the arteries
Enormous peaks indicating arterial stress were found in the high glycemic index groups: the cornflakes and sugar group. “We knew high glycemic foods were bad for the heart. Now we have a mechanism that shows how,” says Dr. Shechter. “Foods like cornflakes, white bread, french fries, and sweetened soda all put undue stress on our arteries. We’ve explained for the first time how high glycemic carbs can affect the progression of heart disease.” During the consumption of foods high in sugar, there appears to be a temporary and sudden dysfunction in the endothelial walls of the arteries.
Endothelial health can be traced back to almost every disorder and disease in the body. It is “the riskiest of the risk factors,” says Dr. Shechter, who practices at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center ― Tel Hashomer Hospital. There he offers a test that can show patients ― in real time ― if they are at high risk for heart attacks. “Medical tourists” from America regularly visit to take the heart test.
The take-away message? Dr. Shechter says to stick to foods like oatmeal, fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, which have a low glycemic index. Exercising every day for at least 30 minutes, he adds, is an extra heart-smart action to take.
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Heart Health at the Tip of Your Finger
Tammuz 11, 5769, 03 July 09 12:48
Actress Whoopi Goldberg tried the EndoPAT heart test on her finger during a recent episode of The View and came out smiling. After 15 minutes, the Israeli developed device was able to give her heart a passing grade. At least for the next seven years.
Developed by Itamar Medical, an Israeli company traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the EndoPAT has been popular not only with celebrities, but also gets a seal of approval from America's doctors, and prestigious medical institutions like the Mayo Clinic.
Earning FDA status in 2003, the EndoPAT can measure the health of your heart using two small probes that hook up to each index finger. While there are other tests on the market like ultrasound tests to help clinicians assess if a patient has the early onset of heart disease, the EndoPAT looks further into the future -- up to seven years, sensing whether or not your arteries are losing elasticity.
Like a blood pressure test on your finger
"The test I'm talking about - a 15 minute test - is a probe on the finger and basically it works the way you take blood pressure," says Dr. Dov Reuven, the company's CEO. "We do the same thing and measure the stress of the arteries in the fingertips."
Used over 150,000 times in the US, the recent vote of confidence from the Mayo Clinic, which tested the EndoPAT on an independent study of healthy volunteers - part of the Framingham Heart Study -- tells doctors that it's a good addition to their toolkit for assessing heart disease.
"That's the beauty of this. That's why it is revolutionary," Reuven tells ISRAEL21c. "The EnoPAT is the easiest detector of this disease. All other devices work within about one, two or three years. There is a test in the US that looks for carotid plaque. The point is once there is a buildup of plaque, it is too late in the cycle. A patient is not going to turn around that much. Ours can already see arteries that are less distensible."
This means that people who may get a clean bill of health from doctors, can look deeper into their future, to know if they are at risk for heart attack seven years down the road. If you discover you are at risk, a regimen for improving health can be developed with a doctor. Changing one's diet and exercise, or taking statins, may be a course of action.
Applications in understanding erectile problems
It also has become an interesting test for understanding erectile dysfunction, and can help a doctor decide whether or not to prescribe erection-enhancing drugs like Cialis, says Reuven.
The same device that tests for heart health can also tell urologists whether or not to prescribe medicine. "It could protect them from malpractice," says Reuven.
Essentially, using this device doctors have a much better way now to control a patient's health to determine if they are at risk of a heart attack. "The importance of the Mayo Clinic story is that today when you go to your physicians or cardiologist, they will ask you seven questions, or risk factors for heart disease, like cholesterol levels, if you smoke, or are overweight," says Reuven.
Sometimes there are people who are considered completely low risk based on these basic questions, but nevertheless are at risk for heart disease. The study examined 240 people who are "specimens of health", tacking them over time, and recording cardiac events, such as chest pains or heart attacks.
The efficacy of the test was confirmed by doctors at Mayo. The clinic writes: "Results of a Mayo Clinic study show that a simple, non-invasive finger sensor test is 'highly predictive' of a major cardiac event, such as a heart attack or stroke, for people who are considered at low or moderate risk, according to researchers."
Mayo's seal of approval
The device is now available at doctors' clinics in the US, including the clinic of The View's house doctor Dr. Stephen Lamm.
Endorsing the product, Lamm says he uses it on every patient, translating to about 200 times a month.
On the show, Whoopi scored a 1.9, "and she was excited," says Reuven. "The real truth is the arterial sclerosis process starts early on in life. This will become part of the screening and treatment process," he adds, mentioning that China is taking a serious look at the device too. "They can't afford heart bypasses and stents."
The EndoPAT has applications in wellness and holistic medicine as a means to quantify if a treatment is working.
The company has a second device, a product that functions like a mini sleep lab used to detect the severity of sleep apnea. Called the WatchPAT it resembles a ski or diving watch. It removes the need for people to spend uncomfortable nights in a sleep lab.
Traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the largest investor in Itamar Medical is Medtronic. The company employs about 160 people worldwide.
Reprinted with permission of Israel21c.