Amazonian tribe found to have healthiest arteries ever studied

Tsimane house

Tsimane house

The South American tribe is said to be healthy for a few reasons, including their active lifestyle. Atherosclerosis is sometimes referred to as "hardening of the arteries" and is a major risk factor for heart disease.

"They offer hope that new and available medications, in addition to healthier lifestyles, may help allow us to keep our arteries healthy throughout our lives". "They basically have the physiology of a 20-year-old".

The primitive people's diet may seem unique, but it is their active lifestyle and their overall diet that may help explain why majority have arteries that were not clogged by cholesterol plaques that raise risk for stroke and heart attack.

"If you think of the calcium plaque as a reasonable measure of arterial age, their arteries are 28 to 30 years younger than ours", said study researcher Randall Thompson, from St. Luke's Mid America Heart Institute. The Tsimane, who live in the Amazon rainforest area that is in Bolivia, had very good results in the study.

Now scientists are looking to the habits of the Tsimane people in Bolivia, who lead a highly active way of life based on hunting, foraging and fishing, for clues on how other populations can improve their heart health. The results are the lowest reported levels of vascular ageing of any population recorded to date.

Nearly nine out of 10 of them were found to have clear arteries, indicating no risk of heart disease.

Scientists studied all Tsimane individuals who were 40 years or older and found that 85 percent of the 705 individuals analyzed had no evidence of clogged arteries.

The study took place in 85 Tsimane villages from July 2014 to September 2015.

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Half were at moderate-to-high risk - a five-fold greater prevalence rate than that seen in the Tsimane population.

Tim Chico, consultant cardiologist and reader in cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, said it was important "not to romanticise the Tsimane existence".

When the sun rises, Tsimane people begin a hard day of physically demanding activities, such as hunting and gathering until the sun sets. They walk between 16-17,000 steps a day. The Tsimane's average level of inflammation was still relatively high, thanks to the constant diseases and parasites they deal with, and their level of HDL cholesterol was also fairly low. They also eat fruits, nuts, rice, maize, manioc root, and plantains. "They mainly use cigarettes to burn these huge flies out of their skin, down there in the rainforest", he said. But one problem that almost no member of the Tsimane has to ever face is heart disease.

In scrutinizing the Tsimane people, researchers found that their lifestyles are the polar opposite of sedentary Americans.

Dr. Kim Williams, immediate past president of the American College of Cardiology, agreed, noting that modern medicine has focused less on prevention than on surgeries, procedures and drugs that save and extend the lives of heart attack or stroke victims.

The findings from the Tsimane also cast some doubt on inflammation as a cause of hardened arteries, which has been a popular theory, Thomas added.

By contrast, many people in the USA are sedentary and inactive most of the day.

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