It’s never too soon to start thinking about taking care of your heart. “By far, the biggest killer of both men and women in the United States is atherosclerosis, which causes heart attacks, strokes and heart failure,” says Howard Schwartz, MD, an integrative cardiologist in New York. Atherosclerosis is the build-up of fatty deposits (plaque) in arteries that restricts the flow of blood through arteries and raises blood pressure, causing further damage.
Reduce your risk
The good news is that having a healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward reducing risk of heart disease. In fact, new research suggests that healthy aging of blood vessels may be possible even in people 70 years and older. Unfortunately, that’s uncommon with today’s Western diet and lifestyle. When scientists followed 3,196 adults from the Framingham Heart Study starting in their 20s, they found that by age 50, only 30 percent of the people had healthy arteries. By age 70, only 1 percent of people had healthy arteries. An unhealthy lifestyle can catch up with you sooner or later. If heart disease runs in your family, you may blame your genes. Although genetics do play a role, research confirms that a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in offsetting this risk.
Recently, researchers looked at medical data and genetic risk of 55,685 adults. They found that people following a healthy lifestyle had nearly a 50 percent lower risk of heart attacks and other heart events compared to people with an unhealthy lifestyle, regardless of their genetic risk. The two biggest lifestyle factors in healthy cardiovascular aging were keeping a healthy body weight and avoiding high blood sugar (type 2 diabetes). So, don’t wait to protect your heart, regardless of whether or not cardiovascular disease runs in your family. “If you don’t want to depend on medications and procedures, seek an integrative approach to heart health that not only includes a healthy diet and physical activity, but also stress reduction and the use of specific dietary supplements, as appropriate,” Schwartz says.
Natural Alternatives; Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract
By Dr. Matthew Budoff, MD, FACC, FAHA
There are several different types of garlic including raw garlic, garlic oil, crude garlic powders in tablets or capsules, and Aged Garlic Extract (AGE). I have found that only AGE provides the concentration and standardization required for effectiveness.
AGE goes through an extensive two-year proprietary process that removes the odour-causing compounds and enhances and concentrates the herb’s active beneficial components. I have found that patients and research participants prefer a garlic supplement that is truly odourless. This increases compliance and ensures the product is taken consistently. I also like the fact that AGE uses organically grown garlic. Amazingly, there are presently well over 750 published papers in peer reviewed scientific journals featuring AGE.
Clinical studies have also shown AGE is more bioavailable. This means it is found in blood, urine, and body tissue after consumption. Because it is more bioavailable, the body can utilize it more effectively. The aging process also increases the potency of S-allylcysteine (SAC), an important sulfur-containing amino acid. There are only small amounts of SAC in raw garlic.
I presented my research on AGE at the Experimental Biology 2014 conference. During earlier studies, my colleagues at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and I demonstrated that AGE enhances blood flow, clears arteries of deposits, and reduces multiple risk factors for heart disease. In two successive randomized trials, we have shown conclusively that AGE has cardiovascular benefit.
In one of our studies, we chose to evaluate 65 patients who were at intermediate risk of developing heart disease. We used a proprietary combination of AGE, the three key B vitamins (B6, B12, and Folate) and L-arginine, a heart-healthy amino acid. The group that took the supplement had less calcified plaque progression, lower total cholesterol, and reduced homocysteine levels compared to the participants who received a placebo.
We did another study using this same formula and demonstrated it significantly improved circulation and halted calcified plaque progression in the arteries of patients who did not have heart disease symptoms but did have subclinical fatty deposits in the arteries.
AGE has a great safety record. While other forms of garlic may interact with blood thinning medications like warfarin (Coumadin), researchers from the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center at the University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine found that no such interaction occurred in those taking AGE. Their clinical trial of 48 patients taking warfarin found that AGE posed no threat of increased bleeding or blood clots breaking loose. However, it’s always wise to let your physician know of all dietary supplements you are taking, especially if you are scheduled for surgery.