Nurture trumps nature for heart attack prevention: global study
MUNICH - A major new study by a Canadian-led research team has found that almost all heart attacks that occur worldwide are due to preventable factors rather than genetics.
The researchers studied more than 29,000 people in 52 countries over a decade to see how factors like smoking, obesity and cholesterol levels increase the risk for heart disease.
Dr. Salim Yusuf, director of the Population Health Research Institute at Hamilton's McMaster University, found an abnormal ratio of "bad" to "good" cholesterol and smoking were responsible for two-thirds of the global risk of heart attack. These and seven other identifiable factors accounted for almost all preventable heart attacks around the world.
"This [study] convincingly shows that 90 per cent of the global risk of heart disease is predictable," Yusuf, a professor of medicine at McMaster, told a news conference in Munich, where he presented the results at the European Society of Cardiology conference on Sunday.
"This is good news. It means we can do something about it."
Until now, smaller studies in the developed world suggested known risk factors accounted for about half of the risk of heart disease.
The new results suggest strategies to tackle heart disease, such as quitting smoking and losing weight, can be applied to men and women of all ages, regardless of race, age or geography, he said.
The other factors, in order of importance, were:
* High blood pressure.
* Abdominal obesity.
* Psychological stress, such as tension over a divorce.
* Inadequate daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.
* Lack of daily exercise.
Drinking three to five alcoholic drinks per week was a slightly protective factor, Yusuf and his colleagues found.
As part of the study, researchers compared about 15,000 people who had suffered their first heart attacks with someone of the same age, sex and location who had not had a heart attack.
Participants were followed over five years, until March 2003. Their cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure were tested, and they were asked about their diet, exercise and smoking.
Together, heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 killers worldwide, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
The study will be published in Sept. 11 issue of the medical journal The Lancet.
The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and 37 other funding sources, including several pharmaceutical companies that didn't attach any conditions to their funding.
Drinking pop tied to higher diabetes risk in women
CHICAGO - Sugary drinks may be partly to blame for increased rates of type 2 diabetes and weight gain in women, a new study suggests.
A single serving of pop can contain the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar.
People with type 2 diabetes do not produce enough insulin, or their bodies become resistant to it. Obesity is strongly linked to the condition. The extra calories from pop may explain part of the increased risk for diabetes, researchers say.
They noted rates of diabetes are rising as consumption of sweetened drinks like pop and fruit juice has increased.
The team from Boston studied data from more than 91,000 female nurses, looking for a relationship between frequent consumption of pop and diabetes.
All of the women were free of diabetes when the study began in 1991. The researchers tracked participants' weights and dietary information every four years until 1999.
Matthias Schulze, now at the German Institute of Human Nutrition, and his colleagues at Harvard University identified 741 cases of type 2 diabetes.
The team found women who consumed one or more sugary drinks a day gained almost three times as much weight as those who drank no more than one a week.
Women drinking sugary beverages were also 1.3 times as likely to develop diabetes, after adjusting for factors like weight, diet and lifestyle differences, the researchers reported in Tuesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.
"In conclusion, our findings suggest that frequent consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages may be associated with larger weight gain and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, possibly by providing excessive calories and large amounts of rapidly absorbable sugars," the researchers said.
In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Caroline Apovian of Boston University noted women with a higher intake of pop tended to have dietary patterns and lifestyle habits that increased their risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Apovian said doctors could be alerted to unhealthy habits by asking patients about their consumption of sugary drinks. The study's findings also lend support for calls to ban pop machines in schools, she said.
The American Beverage Association said the study's conclusions are not scientifically sound, adding weight gain and unhealthy lifestyles lead to diabetes, rather than drinking pop itself.
Written by CBC News Online staff