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World's 'Healthiest Heart' Found in the Amazon Tribe

World's 'Healthiest Heart' Found in the Amazon Tribe

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  • An Amazonian tribe called Tsimane has the lowest risk of coronary artery disease (hardening of the artery)
  • Tsimane tribe diet is low in saturated fats and high in non-processed fiber-rich carbohydrates, along with wild game and freshwater fish
  • Nine out of ten of the Tsimane people had no risk of heart disease

An indigenous Bolivian population known as the Tsimane has the healthiest hearts in the world, finds a new study published in The Lancet. It is a well-known fact that dietary choices and lifestyle have an impact on the heart health. The lifestyle of the Tsimane tribe resembles that of a human civilization from thousands of years ago. Tsimane people are physically active as they thrive on hunting, gathering, fishing, and farming in the Amazon rainforest. Tsimane's diet consists of wild game, freshwater fish, rice, maize, roots, fruits, and nuts.

Heart Health of the Tsimane People

To understand the association between the pre-industrial lifestyle and low prevalence of coronary artery disease risk factors, the research team examined the Tsimane population living a subsistence lifestyle with few cardiovascular risk factors. A cross-sectional study of the Tsimane people was conducted by the research team. People over forty years and older participated in the study. The research team assessed the participant's heart health for coronary atherosclerosis.


World's 'Healthiest Heart' Found in the Amazon Tribe

The calcium artery score (CAC) of the Tsimane people was assessed with non-contrast CT to investigate the heart health. Blood lipid and other inflammatory biomarkers were also obtained. The CAC is a measurement of the amount of calcium deposits in the walls of the arteries. The higher the CAC score, the higher the risk of heart attack.

The findings showed that out of the 705 Tsimane,
  • 85% had no CAC
  • 13% had CAC scores of 1-100
  • 3% had CAC scores higher than 100
The results were compared with 6,814 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. The mean low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) concentrations were 2·35 mmol/L and 1·0 mmol/L. Coronary artery disease risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and smoking were rare among Tsimane people.

The research team found that almost nine out of ten of the Tsimane people had no risk of coronary artery disease, and only 3% had a moderate or high risk.

Based on the findings, the research team concluded that Tsimane has the lowest levels of coronary artery disease of any population recorded to date.

The findings of the study also suggest that atherosclerosis can be prevented with very low LDL, normal body mass index (BMI), low blood pressure, low blood glucose levels, no smoking and regular physical activity.

Professor Gurven, a lead researcher on this study, stated, "I would say we need a more holistic approach to exercise."

Dr Thomas, a co-author, said, "We need to be exercising much more than we do and that perhaps it is the community's social life and positive outlook that has made their hearts so healthy.

Ultimately, from this unique study, and as rightly said by Professor Sattar from University of Glasgow, "eating a healthy diet very low in saturated fat and full of unprocessed products, not smoking and being active life-long, is associated with the lowest risk of having furring up blood vessels."

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is a condition that is caused by atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of plaque inside the artery walls. The plaque accumulation causes the arteries to become narrower and slows down the flow of blood. Coronary artery disease is caused by lifestyle and genetic factors.

Some of the risk factors for coronary artery disease are
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Physical inactivity
  • Depression
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption

Tips to Prevent the Risk of Coronary Artery Disease

  • Quit smoking as it elevates blood pressure and increases heart beat
  • Control blood pressure and glucose levels
  • Engage in regular physical activity such as walking, jogging, and aerobics
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet by including more fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meat and whole grains. Avoid processed, high-fat and high sugar foods
Reference :
  1. Hillard Kaplan, Randall C Thompson, Benjamin C Trumble, L Samuel Wann, Adel H Allam, Bret Beheim, Bruno Frohlich, M Linda Sutherland, James D Sutherland, Jonathan Stieglitz, Daniel Eid Rodriguez, David E Michalik, Chris J Rowan, Guido P Lombardi, Ram Bedi, Angela R Garcia, James K Min, Jagat Narula, Caleb E Finch, Michael Gurven, Gregory S Thomas. Coronary atherosclerosis in indigenous South American Tsimane: a cross-sectional cohort study. The Lancet, (2017); DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30752- 3

Source: Medindia

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