Dec 262013

Traditional methods of determining high or low risks for coronary artery disease (cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking history and diabetes) misses a significant percentage of people who are at high risks, according to a press release by Johns Hopkins Medicine titled “Study Shows Value of Calcium Scan in Predicting Heart Attack and Stroke Among Those Considered at Either Low or High Risk.” Traditional methods also assign high risk to people who are actually at low risks, states this new study.

The method used in the study is a direct measurement of calcium deposits in heart arteries as seen on a CT scan. Patients are then assigned a calcium score based on the scan.

The study found that 15% of patients considered low risks from traditional screening but with a high coronary artery calcium score were actually a high risk candidate for coronary artery disease over the next 7 years after screening. In addition, patients considered high risk by traditional screening methods were actually low risk over the next 7 years. These are the results of studying data from 7,000 screened patients.

The press release goes on to say, “Our study shows that coronary artery calcium testing holds promise as a frontline assessment for people before they develop heart disease symptoms. In the meantime, we believe that doctors should consider offering a coronary artery calcium scan to their patients to markedly improve risk prediction if they are unsure whether they should be on lifelong statin and aspirin therapy.”

In a previous post, “Are Calcium Supplements Too Dangerous Even to Prevent Osteoporosis,” it’s concluded that calcium becomes a health problem when there is insufficient amounts of magnesium and vitamin K2 in our bloodstream. This conclusion is confirmed in an article by Dr. Jim Howenstine, “Vitamin K2 Controls Removal of Calcium from Arteries…

Dr. Howenstine base his comments on the Rotterdam study on vitamin K2 (Dietary Intake of Menaquinone [vitamin K2] Is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease). He states,” When Vitamin K2 is lacking the calcium remains in the blood and ends up getting deposited in the walls of arteries and other sites which is very undesirable. Thus Vitamin K2 becomes a critical nutrient for both bone and arteries.” In addition, he says, “Most healthy adults in the USA have undiagnosed Vitamin K deficiency. This has important health ramifications as it is a prime contributing cause for arteriosclerosis and osteoporosis with vertebral and other fractures (hip, wrist). The recent availability of Vitamin K2 as a food supplement can produce important health benefits.”

What are good food sources of vitamin K2?

The food with the highest vitamin K2 content is Natto, which is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with the bacteria Bacillus subtilis. It’s not common in the U.S., and most Americans can’t stand the smell or taste of Natto. Fortunately, low fat Gouda and Edam cheeses also are good sources, along with most Swiss type of cheeses. Smaller amounts of vitamin K2 can also be found in eggs and the dark meat of chicken.

Recent studies suggest that a direct measurement of your calcium buildup in your heart arteries is a better indication of heart attack and stroke risk compared to the traditional indicators of cholesterol, blood pressure, family history and diabetes. Additional research indicates that people with low levels of vitamin K2 are more likely to develop calcium plaques in their heart arteries, and have a higher risk of coronary heart disease. This makes vitamin K2 an important heart health vitamin. Some of the best food sources of this vitamin are Natto, Gouda, Edam, and to a lesser extent eggs and the dark meat of chicken.

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