Friday, 28 October 2011

Consume more fruits, vegetables and keep coronary artery disease at bay

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Coronary artery disease (CAD) in Indians below 30
years is mainly due to inadequate consumption of fruits, vegetable
salads and foods rich in folate and vitamin B 12 rather than mutations
in certain genes.

A team of city researchers has found that a majority of young heart
patients examined as part of the study consumed inadequate quantity of
fruits and salads and foods fortified with vitamin B12 and folate or
folic acid.

When their genetic makeup was studied to find out whether any mutation
in genes was responsible for CAD, only a few patients showed such
mutation. A majority of the young heart patients studied had no
genetic mutations, and yet they got coronary artery disease mainly
because of low intake of B12 and folate-rich foods, particularly
vegetables and fruits.

The team comprised doctors from the Institute of Genetics and Hospital
for Genetic Diseases, Apollo Hospital, Care Hospital and Gandhi
Hospital. Coronary artery disease is linked to high levels of an amino
acid (homocysteine) and this is linked to mutations in genes known as
MTHFR and MS. But in 100 young heart patients examined, only a handful
had the mutation, while a majority of them had low levels of B12 and
folate. The quantum of homocysteine also goes up if dietary intake of
B12 and folate is insufficient. Smoking, intake of tobacco products
and lack of physical exercise added to the problem.

Young Indians are three times at higher risk of heart diseases than
people living in the West. "Though high levels of homocysteine have
been widely linked to the early onset of heart diseases in other
populations, a definite proof among Indians is lacking," the team
pointed out adding that high levels of this amino acid is linked
mainly to the diet rather than the genes.

The study gains significance as about 25 per cent of heart attacks
among men and women in India occur when they are younger than 40.
"This is unheard of in other populations," the researchers observed.
They said prolonged cooking and frying of vegetables results in loss
of 90 per cent of folate content.

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