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Xango Resource Book

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Multiple articles covering a wide spectrum of information related to the mangosteen fruit and wellness

Text of Xango Resource Book

  • fiffix*t teHARVARD GAZETTE ARCHIVES

    By Will iam J. CromieGazette Staff

    For about $20 you can determine your risk of a future heart attack,according to a new study from Harvard Medical School.

    The test measures levels of a protein that increase with the amountof inflammation in coronary arteries. The study showed that healthywomen with the highest levels of this substance, known as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, have more than four times the risk ofsuffering a heart or blood-vessel problem than women with lowerlevels of the marker. Previous research revealed that men_with thehighest levels of this protein in their blood haye tlrpp tinles the riskof heart attack and two times the. risk of stroke compared to menwith the lowest levels.

    Better Way To Predict Heart Attacks Is Discovered

    Paul Ridker uses a heartmodel to expla in why h ighlevels of a protein l inked toinf lammat ion candramat ica l ly ra ise the r isk ofa heart attack.

    "Cholesterol screening is currently the gold standard for predictingheart-attack risk, but nearly half of all heart attacks occur among men and women with norrnalcholesterol levelso" notes Paul Ridker, a cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham andWomen's Hospital in Boston.

    "In fact, the amount of risk associated with hieh-sensitivity C-reactive protein is aknost twicethat associated with high levels of low density cholesterol."

    The Food and Drug Administration approved the first test for this protein last November."It's now available to all doctors and costs about $15-$20," says Ridker, who is also anassociate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

    An improved ability to predict risk of heart attack can reveal who will benefit most frompreventive strategies, such as increased exercise, a healthier diet, and quitting smoking.Also, it pinpoints the best candidates for so-called statin drugs, such as pravastatin, which lowerlevels of both high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and low-density, or harmful, cholesterol.

    "These drugs can prevent first heart attacks," Ridker points out, "but they axe too expensive toprescribe for everyone. The new test, along with cholesterol screening, should enable doctorsto better determine who is most likelv to benefit from their use."

  • Not all tests for the orotein are equal, however. o'Doctors who use this new approach must usean accurate high-sensitivitv test for C-reactive protein. not one ofthe older tests. which are farless reliable," cautions Nader Rifai, a Harvard associate professor of pathology, whoparticipated in this research.

    Healing Begets HarmExactly how the protein is linked to heart disease and sffoke remains unclear. It's known tohelp white blood cells destroy invading bacteria and viruseso a process accompanied byinflammation. But there's a harmful side to such healing. Inflammation sometimes leads tovulnerable plaques, or raised clumps of cholesterol in the lining of blood vessels. The plaquesare vulnerable because they are likely to rupture, and the fragments can block narrower arteriesdownstream, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

    "lnflarnmation is now understood to play a critical role in the conversion ofa stable cholesterolplaque into a worrisome, unstable lesion (injury)," Ridker points out.To clarifu the relationship between various markers involved in this process, includingC-reactive protein, total cholesterol, low-density cholesterol, and other compounds, Ridker andhis colleagues checked blood samples from 28,263 healthy, middle-aged women. The womenwere followed for three years, and levels of 12 different markers were compared withincidences ofdeath from heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, and need for procedures to unblocktheir coronary arteries.High-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels turned out to be the strongest and most significantpredictor of who would suffer these cardiovascular problems. The relationship held true evenamong people with cholesterol levels considered safe by national guidelines.

    "Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United Stateso" Ridker says."Any improvement we can make in a doctor's ability to predict heart attacks will increase thenumber of lives we can save through targeted use of drugs like the statins and more aggressivechanges in lifestyles."

    A report on this research was published today in the March 23 issue of the Nelt EnglandJournal of Medicine.

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