Chinese Diet Protects Heart -
Western Diets Shown To
Lead To Heart Disease
By Maggie Fox
Health and Science Correspondent< /A>
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Chinese researchers presented more evidence Tuesday that the standard Western diet can cause heart disease.
They said people who ate a traditional Chinese diet, based on rice, vegetables and green tea, were much less likely to suffer the physical symptoms of heart disease -- even though they have high rates of smoking.
But when Chinese people moved to Western cities such as San Francisco or Sydney, their arteries started to make the changes that herald heart disease, Dr. Kam Woo of the University of Hong Kong told a meeting of the American Heart Association.
``Both Chinese and non-Chinese should recognize the potential effects of the traditional Chinese diet,'' Woo told a news conference.
Green Tea
``They should think about drinking more green tea, eating more vegetables and eating less meat and dairy products.'' Woo started with villagers in Pan Yu, a town in Guangdong province about 100 miles from Hong Kong in southern China, who have one of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world.
He used ultrasound, which uses sound waves, to measure the thickness of the inner walls of the carotid arteries that feed blood to the brains of some of the villagers, and asked them about their dietary habits.
Woo then compared these measurements to westernized Chinese living in Hong Kong, Sydney, and San Francisco. In all, he studied 116 people aged 20 to 60.
The combined thickness of the lining and middle muscle layers of the carotid artery are considered a good indicator of heart disease.
The average carotid inner wall thickness was about one-fifth thinner among the Pan Yu villagers than in the Westernized Chinese, Woo reported.
Half The Meat
The Pan Yu villagers ate just under half as much meat and just a tiny fraction of the amount of dairy food as the Western-living Chinese. They ate more vegetables, tofu and drank much more green tea.
For breakfast the villagers would eat congee, or rice porridge, steamed buns containing a small amount of meat and plenty of tea.
``Hardly any ham, bacon, sausage or scrambled egg is eaten in the typical Pan Yu breakfast meal,'' Woo said.
Other meals included stir-fried or steamed vegetables, a little meat and fish or tofu.
``That is in contrast to fried chicken or fish fillet'' in the West, he said.
He said Westerners should not only eat more vegetables and less fatty meat, but should cook Chinese-style more often, steaming or stir-frying foods.
US Wives Don't Learn After Husband's Heart Attack
By Maggie Fox
Health and Science Correspondent
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Wives are not wising up to the dangers of heart disease after their husbands suffer heart attacks or undergo heart bypass surgery, researchers said on Wednesday.
The researchers said doctors and other health care workers have assumed that women would not only look out for their husband's health after a heart attack, but for their own health as well.
But a study of 177 men recovering from a heart attack or heart bypass surgery and their wives showed that the wives could be in even more danger of heart disease than the husbands.
``Women may be at increased risk if they are married to men with heart disease because of their shared lifestyle,'' Lynn Macken, a registered nurse at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, told reporters.
``In some cases, the women's risk factors were even higher than their husbands', which was particularly alarming because the women tended to be younger than their mates and were not being screened for potential heart disease,'' Macken added.
The average age of the women in the study was 58, and of the men was 62.
Macken told a meeting of the American Heart Association that, as might be expected for people who live together, wives shared risk factors for heart disease with their husbands -- smoking, lack of exercise, being overweight and eating an unhealthy diet.
The men had an average cholesterol level of 212, while the women had an average level of 226, they found. Anything over 200 is considered too high.
The couples were slightly overweight on average, with an average body mass index (BMI) of 25.5 for the women and 26 for the men. BMI is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by height in meters squared.
``Our data suggest that the spouses might be at higher risk for heart disease,'' Macken said.
Stress Of Ill Mate Worsens Situation
The stress of having an ill husband could make the women's situation even worse, Macken said. ``These women even tend to get sick as they are caregivers for their husbands,'' she said.
She said health professionals were telling the patients to start eating better and exercising, but this information was not getting to the wives. ``They are making the assumptions that they are going to be making these dietary changes,'' Macken said. ``Women tend to be forgotten or ignored.''
Studies have shown that although one in three U.S. women will die of heart disease, women tend not to think they are at risk. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women in industrialized countries and, increasingly, in developing nations.
Other research presented at the conference showed that if women follow American Heart Association guidelines, they can reduce their risk of heart disease by more than 80 percent.
The guidelines include quitting smoking, exercising at least 30 minutes every day, eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and getting no more than 30 percent of calories from fat.