Lifestyle Factors Linked with Hardening Arteries, Study Finds

New research from the University of Georgia has identified certain lifestyle factors that could lead to the hardening of the arteries.  The study is actually among the largest of its kind, performing an untargeted metabolomics profile an at least 1,200 participants in the Bogalusa Heart Study. The goal of this study was to identify metabolites that might be associated with hardening arteries. 

Also known as arterial stiffness, hardening of the arteries is commonly to be an independent risk factor for heart disease and death.  It is also regarded as a mechanism that contributes to arterial stiffening and, unfortunately, is still not well understood. 

This is where metabolomics—the study of metabolites—can help. Metabolomics is the study of, obviously, metabolites.  The body creates metabolites every time there is a transfer of energy within the body. These mechanisms play a defining role in the body’s overall function, which means that changes in levels of metabolites in the body can reflect environmental factors such as diet or pollutants or smoking; and they can influence your health. 

Study author Changwei Li comments, “Metabolomics can accurately measure the amount of exposures entering the body.”

The UGA College of Public Health assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics goes on to say, “In this study, we identified many metabolites related to coffee drinking, alcohol drinking, Southern foods, dietary supplements, and even pesticides.”

By using an updated metabolites panel, Li and his research team ran an analysis on the blood samples of each participant, in search of looking for environmental exposures that can have an impact on arterial stiffness potential.  In all, then, the study found 27 new metabolites could be associated with arterial stiffness.

Li continues, “Our study raised possibility that [the aforementioned food] additives may cause arterial stiffness. Given the wide usage of those additives, future studies are warranted to investigate their role in arterial stiffness.”

And, finally, he concludes, “We were able to identify some environmental and lifestyle related-metabolites, build metabolite networks to show how the body reacts to the environmental exposures, and more importantly, tested the  effect of those metabolites on arterial stiffness.”

Most of the metabolites they discovered were already associated with other known risk factors for arterial stiffness. This includes things like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

The results of this study have been published in the American Journal of Hypertension.

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