How Nuts Can Protect Your Heart

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 4, 2016

Assorted Roasted Nuts in Small Bowl

BWH researchers discovered that greater intake of nuts is associated with lower levels of inflammation.

Contributors: Dr. Ying Bao is an epidemiologist in Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Dr. Paul Ridker is Director for the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at BWH.

In a study of more than 5,000 people, investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found that greater intake of nuts was associated with lower levels of biomarkers of inflammation, a finding that may help explain the health benefits of nuts. The results of the study appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Previous studies have consistently supported a protective role of nuts against cardiometabolic disorders such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, and we know that inflammation is a key process in the development of these diseases,” said corresponding author Dr. Ying Bao, an epidemiologist in BWH’s Channing Division of Network Medicine. “Our new work suggests that nuts may exert their beneficial effects in part by reducing systemic inflammation.”

Previously, Dr. Bao and her colleagues observed an association between increased nut consumption and reduced risk of major chronic diseases and even death, but few studies had examined the link between nut intake and inflammation. In the current study, the research team performed a cross-sectional analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which includes more than 120,000 female registered nurses, and from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which includes more than 50,000 male health professionals. The research team assessed diet using questionnaires and looked at the levels of certain telltale proteins known as biomarkers in blood samples collected from the study participants. They measured three well-established biomarkers of inflammation: C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 6 (IL6) and tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR2).

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Multiple Sclerosis: Can the Microbiome Offer Clues to New Treatments and a Possible Cure?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 5, 2016

In a recent study, BWH researchers discovered that bacteria living in the gut may influence the activity of brain cells involved in controlling inflammation and neurodegeneration – key factors in the development and progression of MS.

BWH researchers have discovered that bacteria living in the gut may influence the activity of brain cells involved in controlling inflammation and neurodegeneration.

Contributor: Francisco Quintana, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His research aims to outline the mechanisms that control the activity of the immune system, with the ultimate goal of identifying new therapies.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) are looking to the gut microbiome, a collection of microorganisms that live inside the intestines, for new treatment approaches and a potential cure for multiple sclerosis (MS).

In a recent study, the research team discovered that bacteria living in the gut may influence the activity of brain cells involved in controlling inflammation and neurodegeneration – key factors in the development and progression of MS. The team’s results, published in Nature Medicine, may point to potential therapeutic targets for patients with MS. Previous research has suggested a connection between the gut microbiome and brain inflammation. How the two are linked and how diet may influence this connection, however, has remained largely unknown.

“For the first time, we’ve been able to determine that food has some sort of remote control over central nervous system inflammation,” says Quintana, the senior investigator of the study. “What we eat enables bacteria in our gut to produce small chemicals, some of which are capable of traveling all the way to the brain.” Read More »

Recognizing American Heart Month

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 9, 2016

heart-stethoscope
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States, but many advances are being made in the fight against heart disease. In recognition of American Heart Month, we have compiled videos from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Heart & Vascular Center experts to provide you with information on many of the latest approaches in heart disease treatment and prevention.

Targeting Inflammation– A Key to Preventing Heart Disease

Research led by Dr. Paul Ridker, Director of the BWH Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, determined that people with higher blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of inflammation, are at increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the future. In this video, Dr. Ridker discusses the role of inflammation in heart disease.

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Inflammation and Heart Disease: Understanding the Link

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 15, 2015

Middle-aged men with higher blood levels of C-reactive protein (pictured), a measure of inflammation, are at increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the future.

You already know that high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and certain lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking, are major risk factors for heart disease. But science shows there’s another factor that could impact your heart health.

Research conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) over the past 20 years suggests that inflammation also may contribute to heart disease risk.

Inflammation can occur as a part of the immune response, our bodies’ attempt to fight off and attack foreign substances, such as infectious diseases. Inflammation also may occur in response to the buildup of fatty deposits (atherosclerosis) inside the walls of arteries, potentially leading to the formation of harmful blood clots.

In 1997, researchers led by Dr. Paul Ridker, Director of the BWH Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, discovered that middle-aged men with higher blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of inflammation, were at increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the future.

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