Coronary Artery Calcium
by Aisha Alam, Shivam Patel, and Kiriti Vattikonda
Product 1: video
Product 2: blog post
Take the following quiz to discover how good your eating habits are. The quiz starts on slide number 2. On each slide, select an answer by clicking on the proposition that corresponds better to your personal case. Completing the quiz should not take you more than 2 minutes. The quiz is completely anonymous and no data will be collected.
Based on the results of the quiz you may be wondering how diet contributes to your heart attack risk. The answer lies in understanding Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) and its effect in predicting heart attacks. As we age calcium builds on the walls of our arteries and the build up is greatly influenced by what we eat. If there is too much calcium build up in the arteries, the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the heart is impaired which increases your risk of having a heart attack. In order to prevent a future heart attack, it is a good idea to begin reflecting on your current lifestyle.
Think about your own eating habits at the moment. When we are teenagers and young adults, we all believe we can eat whatever we want without any worries. However only until we become middle aged adults do many of us begin to consider healthier eating habits, eating more fruits and vegetables as well as cutting back on fats and sweets, to prevent chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. However in the recent study, “The Association of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption During Early Adulthood With the Prevalence of Coronary Artery Calcium After 20 Years of Follow-Up: The CARDIA Study,” people’s dietary choices were tracked, especially their fruits and vegetables intake over the course of 20 years. The study showed that that it’s much better to start eating fruits and vegetables during your early adulthood. Next time you think about grabbing a snack go for the blueberries and kale instead.
In the study Dr. Michael Miedema and his colleagues reviewed the eating habits of a population of 2,500 men and women between ages of 18 to 30. The researchers conducted scans of the heart to check for coronary calcium. Coronary calcium is a good indicator of heart attack risk because it measures the amount of calcium, a component that can build up as plaque, and narrow the heart vessels to cause a heart attack. The findings of the study show that if you eat seven to nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day versus two to four servings a day you can, on average, reduce your heart attack occurrence by 25%. Now you may be wondering that there are other factors affecting coronary artery calcium such as exercise, smoking, high blood pressure, or elevated blood sugar. However the researchers adjusted for these factors and still found diet to significantly impact coronary artery calcium.
The bottom-line is it is important to eat healthy early on as it can have a huge impact on your heart health. Now you may be thinking I hear this all the time but if you consider what Dr. Miedema has to say, he notes that “We assumed that eating healthy in your younger years was important, but we didn’t know for sure.” With all this in mind there is now solid scientific evidence that what our mother has being saying to us all those years was right—eat your fruits and vegetables to grow up big and strong.
- Michael D. Miedema, Andrew Petrone, James M. Shikany, Philip Greenland, Cora E. Lewis, Mark J. Pletcher, J., Michael Gaziano, and Luc Djousse. The Association of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption During Early Adulthood With the Prevalence of Coronary Artery Calcium After 20 Years of Follow-Up: The CARDIA Study. Circulation, published online before print October 26 2015. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.012562