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Cardio Metabolic Health Congress – Official Blog

Link Between Childhood Cardiovascular Risk Factors & Future Lower Cognition

A recent study published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology includes data that indicates an association between the presence of cardiovascular risk factors in adolescence, and a lower cognition later in life–“regardless of the exposure experienced during adulthood.”


The data investigated a sample of 3,596 individuals from childhood to adulthood, including follow-up cognitive testing, in addition to measurements of cardiovascular risk factors like cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body mass index, exposure to smoking, etc.

The study was able to specifically pinpoint the worsening of midlife cognitive performance among those individuals with high blood pressure and cholesterol in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. The data further demonstrated that smoking in adolescence and young adulthood is linked to a decrease in cognition: specifically, memory and learning.

Study participants between the ages of 6 and 24 who had all risk factors within the recommended levels performed better on cognitive testing than their counterparts who exceeded all risk factors guidelines at least twice; the difference corresponded to the effect of 6 years of aging. Researchers further found that those participants with the highest blood pressure had a difference in cognitive age of 8.4 years, compared to those with the lowest blood pressure.

Suvi Rovio, PhD, lead author of the study and a senior scientist at the Research Centre of Applied and Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku in Finland, stated: “These findings support the need for active monitoring and treatment strategies against cardiovascular risk factors from childhood…this shouldn’t just be a matter of cognitive deficits prevention, but one of primordial prevention.”

The Benefits of a Vegan Diet

While there are a multitude of promises available regarding specific diets that will help individuals lose weight and/or mitigate cardiovascular risks factors, clinical research indicates that within a few weeks of eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, many people will have improved insulin sensitivity and lowered levels of cholesterol.


Dr. Thomas M. Campbell, Medical Director of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and clinical director of the University of Rochester Program for Nutrition Medicine, also refers to the high probability of improved bowel movements, enhanced sleep hygiene and increased energy, and improved skin quality.

Extensive scientific literature and research demonstrates that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat are linked to a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease. Meat and fish have saturated fat, while a vegan diet is devoid of any cholesterol, and low in terms of saturated fat. When people begin to eat a plant-based diet, therefore, their cholesterol levels decline; and ultimately, their risk of cardiovascular disease decreases. This all happens within a few weeks, as blood vessel walls become healthier due to the increase of nitric oxide in arterial walls, which reduces the risk for heart attacks and strokes. Moreover, without heavy saturated fats from animal products, blood is less viscous and begins to pump more easily at lower pressures.

The American Diabetes association confirms that among individuals with type 2 diabetes, those who eat a vegan diet have considerably improved glycemic control, in addition to lessened cardiovascular risk factors. The diet can even reverse the disease altogether, in some patients. According to Dr. Michael Klaper, an internationally-recognized authority on the link between diet and health, “A person with uncontrolled diabetes, on insulin, can see demonstrable improvements in medication usage and efficacy in 24 hours.” Conversely, another study also published by the American Diabetes Association indicates that those who eat high amounts of animal protein are 22 percent more likely to develop diabetes.

Biomarkers Could Predict Best Diets

A new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has indicated two biomarkers that can predict the efficacy of certain diets for weight loss: specifically, for people with prediabetes or diabetes.

Through an analysis of over 1,200 adults, researchers discovered that a person’s fasting blood glucose levels, fasting insulin levels, or both, could pinpoint which diets would most likely lead to weight loss. These biomarkers were particularly effective in determining which diets were best for people with pre-diabetes and diabetes.

Each year, millions of us go on diets in an attempt to lose weight, but not all of us succeed. A new study has uncovered two biomarkers that could predict how effective certain diets will be for weight loss, particularly for people with prediabetes or diabetes.

Statistics from the American Diabetes Association indicate that approximately 29.1 million people in the Untied States have diabetes; estimates show that around 75 million people have pre-diabetes, yet almost 90% remain unaware. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the condition: the body is unable to effectively use the hormone insulin, which causes high blood glucose levels. For people with prediabetes, blood glucose levels remain higher than normal—yet not high enough to lead to a diagnosis of diabetes.

The researchers in the study believe that a person’s fasting blood glucose and insulin levels could be utilized to help identify the most effective diet for weight loss, after analyzing the data of three dietary clinical trials: the Diet, Obesity, and Genes trial, the OPUS Supermarket intervention (SHOPUS), and the Nutrient-gene interactions in human obesity (NUGENOB) trial. The subjects were all overweight; the researchers evaluated and assessed their fasting blood glucose levels, and fasting insulin levels, in order to determine whether the levels were associated with weight loss in response to certain diets.

These results symbolize a kind of breakthrough in personalized nutrition: among adults with prediabetes, the team found that a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits was the most effective for weight loss. For example, in the SHOPUS trial, adults with prediabetes who followed a diet high in the aforementioned foods lost more weight than those who followed a controlled diet. For people with type 2 diabetes, the researchers found that a diet rich in plant-based, “healthy” fats, and low in carbohydrates, was most effective for weight loss.

The team reported that adding participants’ fasting insulin levels to the analysis further strengthened the identified correlations between diet and weight loss, confirming the hypothesis that fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin levels may be biomarkers for weight loss.

CMHC Announces Partnership with Association of Black Cardiologists

CMHC is excited to announce a partnership with Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating disparities in cardiovascular disease and treatment among minorities.

Founded in 1974, ABC’s current public and private partnerships impact communities across the nation, spurred by the belief that “good health is the cornerstone of progress.” The organization’s primary mission is to create accessible and affordable healthcare for all populations, ultimately lowering the growing rates of cardiovascular disease.

The partnership allows both CMHC and ABC to increase awareness surrounding the prevention, diagnosis, and management of cardiometabolic risk.

As the largest multidisciplinary conference solely focused on the management of cardiometabolic risk, coupled with the prevention of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, CMHC’s 12th Annual Cardiometabolic Health Congress—taking place from October 4-7 in Boston—offers today’s healthcare practitioners and professionals an opportunity to learn clinical practices and protocols that can immediately be implemented and integrated. With ABC, the 3 ½ day event will further focus on disparities in healthcare, and pragmatic approaches to redefine the practice of medicine.

For more information about the event and to access the full agenda, visit https://www.cardiometabolichealth.org/2017/boston-12th-annual.html.

Artificial Intelligence in Precision Cardiovascular Medicine

The rapidly growing field of Artificial Intelligence (AI)—a field of computer science that seeks to perform and directly mimic tasks that generally require human intelligence—has developed a series of techniques that have been applied in cardiovascular medicine. Designed to enhance patient care, improve cost-effectiveness, and reduce readmission and mortality rates, these machine-learning techniques have been increasingly used for cardiovascular disease diagnosis and prediction.

Researchers believe that AI, in the near future, will ultimately result in ‘a paradigm shift toward precision cardiovascular medicine,’ as its applications in clinical care have tremendous potential in facilitating improvements in care: including machine learning, deep learning, and cognitive computing. The term ‘big data’ connotes extraordinarily large sets of data, which cannot be neither analyzed nor interpreted through traditional methods of data-processing. This type of data includes statistics from mobile phone apps, wearable devices, social media, and ‘omic’ data (i.e. genomics and proteomics), in addition to data from standardized electronic health records.

Clinical care in cardiovascular medicine currently faces several challenges, most of which relate to high costs in prevention and treatment, low cost-effectiveness and inadequacy in patient care, and overutilization. Moreover, because cardiovascular diseases are inherently complex—due to the multiple genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors that cause them—deep learning in AI, through the use of big data, can be used in pattern recognition to heterogeneous syndromes and image recognition in CV imaging; deep learning also uses multiple layers and transformations through several algorithms.

The concept of deep-learning, a new machine-learning technique that plays a critical role in areas including image recognition, has been applied through ideas and inventions including Facebook’s facial recognition system, speech-recognition, self-driving cars, mobile apps, machine vision camera software, IBM Watson, and robots. Because AI can effectively ‘classify new genotypes or phenotypes of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction,’ AI can greatly improve the accuracy of cardiac imaging methods.

Moreover, using big data can automatically generate new hypotheses, allowing physicians to make improved clinical decisions and diagnoses. The role of AI applications, such as machine learning, deep learning, and cognitive computing, can enable precision cardiovascular medicine, and move beyond traditional statistical tools—which will improve the estimated CVD risk scores to automate prediction.

The Benefits of Mindful Eating

Recent studies indicate that meal timing and frequency may impact cardiovascular health, and disease risks. While eating patterns vary from person to person, research indicates that effective management of cardiometabolic health should focus on ‘intentional eating’–paying attention to standardize eating times, meal sizes, and food content.

One of the primary critical factors in evaluating the effect of meal frequency and timing on cardiovascular health was what constituted a meal that potentially impacted metabolism. Data shows that distributing calories over a defined period of the day, coupled with maintaining a consistent overnight fast period, could ultimately yield positive benefits surrounding cardiometabolic health–in addition to eating a larger portion of one’s daily caloric intake earlier in the day.

Skipping meals and snacking, which have become increasingly prevalent, have various effects on cardiometabolic health markers: namely obesity, lipid profile, insulin resistance, and blood pressure. Because irregular eating patterns do not lead to a healthy cardiometabolic profile, intentional eating–with mindful attention to the timing and frequency of eating occasions–will lead to a healthier lifestyle. Most importantly, planning each meal with a variety of healthy foods, and timing meals, can help manage hunger, achieve desired portion control, and improve nutrition quality.

Breastfeeding May Lower Risk of Heart Disease & Stroke

While there is extensive research documenting the benefits of breastfeeding for babies, a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association indicates that the practice may lessen a mother’s risk of heart disease and stroke. Moreover, researchers found that a mother’s risk of cardiovascular disease further decreased with each additional 6 months of breastfeeding. Previous studies have suggested that women who breastfeed may experience short-term reductions in blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight loss, which likely benefit cardiovascular health.

The study, conducted in China, analyzed data from 289,754 Chinese women who were free of cardiovascular disease at the study’s baseline; almost all participants had children. The study required the women to provide information surrounding reproductive history, including whether or not they had breastfed children and the duration of breastfeeding.

The researchers assessed the incidence of heart disease and stroke among the women over an eight year follow-up, ultimately finding that women who had breastfed children were at a 9% lower risk of heart disease and an 8% lower risk of stroke, compared to those who had not breastfed. When looking at the results by breastfeeding duration, results revealed that women who had breastfed children for 2 years or longer were 18 percent less likely to develop heart disease and 17% less likely to have a stroke. For every 6 additional months of breastfeeding, risks of heart disease and stroke were respectively reduced by 4% and 3%.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States; statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 610,000 people die from heart disease each year, accounting for 1 in every 4 deaths. Likewise, stroke is one of the country’s leading causes of disability: there are more than 795,000 people in the U.S. who have a stroke annually.

Senior author Zhengming Chen of the University of Oxford states that “the findings should encourage more widespread breast-feeding for the benefit of the mother as well as the child.”

A “Vaccine” for Cholesterol Clearance?

AT04A, a peptide-based formulation that induces an immune response against a protein that interferes with cholesterol clearance, has been effective in lowering cholesterol in studies with mice. AT04A qualifies as an immunotherapy, as it targets one of the body’s own proteins–not a protein associated with a pathogen.

The study is the first to demonstrate that the AT04A vaccine induced high and persistent’ antibody levels against PCSK9 (an enzyme that prevents the clearance of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol–‘bad’ cholesterol–from the blood).

When the AT04A formulation was injected under the skin of mice that had been fed diets of fatty food, it reduced the total amount of cholesterol by 53%, shrank atherosclerotic damage to blood vessels by 64%, and reduced biological markers of blood vessel inflammation by 21% to 28%, in comparison to the unvaccinated mice. Moreover, the induced antibodies remained functional over the entire study period, and concentrations were still high at the study’s conclusion.

“The way that AT04A is administered is comparable to a vaccine,” explained Gunther Staffler, PhD, the chief technology officer at the company that initially developed AT04A. “However, the difference between a conventional vaccine and our approach is that a vaccine induces antibodies that are specific to bacterial or viral proteins that are foreign to the body—pathogens—whereas AT04A induces antibodies against a target protein that is produced by the body—endogenous proteins. This it is really an immunotherapeutic approach rather than a vaccine approach.”

Coconut Oil: Not So Healthy?

 A recent new advisory report from the American Heart Association advises against the use of coconut oil, a popular trend in the health and wellness industry.

The Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease, after viewing existing data on saturated fats, has demonstrated that coconut oil specifically increased LDL—known as ‘bad’ cholesterol—in seven out of seven controlled oils. 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, according to data: exceeding butter, beef fat, and pork lard.

The advisory stated: “Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of cardiovascular disease, and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil.” Marie-Pierre St-Onge, associate professor of nutritional medicine at Cornell University Medical School, believes that coconut oil is so popular for weight loss due to her research on medium-chain triglycerides. Because coconut oil has a higher proportion of medium-chain triglycerides than most other fats or oils, and her research indicated that medium-chain triglycerides may increase the rate of metabolism, many now believe that coconut oil can be responsible for weight loss.

However, St-Onge’s research used a ‘designer oil’ that was full of 100% medium-chain triglycerides; traditional coconut oil only contains about 13-15%. Moreover, another study published by St-Onge reveals that smaller doses of medium-chain triglycerides does not help with weight loss in overweight adolescents.

“You can put it on your body, but don’t put it in your body,” said Frank Sacks, lead author on the report.

1/3 of World = Overweight

A new study reports that more than two billion adults and children across the globe are overweight or obese, and suffer from related health problems. Spurred by poor nutrition and low levels of physical activity, this number equates to one-third of the world’s population.

While 2.2 billion people can be classified as overweight or obese, more than 710 million are obese: 5% of all children, and 12% of all adults, can be categorized in this segment. The United States has the greatest percentage of obese or overweight children and young adults, at 13%.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, states that a growing number of people across the globe are dying from poor health, and problems linked to being overweight. “People who shrug off weight gain do so at their own risk–risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and other life-threatening conditions,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and evaluation at the University of Washington, who worked on the study.

Researchers analyzed data collected between 1980 and 2015 from 68.5 billion people, and revealed that the number of people affected by obesity has doubled since 1980 in 73 countries, and continued to rise across most other countries in the analysis. Although the percentages of obese children were lower than adults, that rate at which their numbers have increased was greater–indicating greater future risk if nothing is done to alleviate and curb the growing problem.

“This raises the alarm that we may be facing a wave of obesity in the coming years across high and low income countries,” states Goodarz Danaei, assistant professor of global health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Because obesity levels have risen in all countries, irrespective of income levels, the issue does not simply boil down to wealth. The paper reads: “Changes in the food environment and food systems are probably major drivers.”