It is no secret that as we age, certain processes within the human body slow down such as metabolism or cognitive processing, while others accelerate for instance lean muscle atrophy or plaque formation within our blood vessels. Nonetheless, it’s important to stress that the rate at which the example processes above happen can be influenced positively by our lifestyle choices.
Coronary atherosclerosis is the formation of plaques or lesions within the arteries of your heart, which over time narrow the lumen (also known as stenosis) of the vessel and impairs vital blood flow to the body’s most important muscle. However, the landmark ‘Lifestyle Heart Trial’ published in the Lancet Journal 1990 explored the possibility that Coronary Atherosclerosis can be slowed down, and even reversed through changes in your lifestyle.
Modifiable risk factors such as: smoking, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, obesity and low cardiorespiratory fitness impact atherosclerotic progression which occurs over decades (beginning in adolescence) and typically becomes clinically significant within our second/third decade of life. The trial tested the effectiveness of a low-fat vegetarian diet, along with the cessation of smoking, stress management training, and moderate exercise for 1 year and produced these amazing results:
- Frequency of Angina decreased by 91%, duration of Angina decreased by 42%, and the severity of Angina decreased by 28%
- Total cholesterol decreased by 24% with LDL (bad) cholesterol falling by 37%
- Blood pressure decreased by 7/4 mmHg
- Weight decreased by 10 kg on average
- Coronary lesion stenosis regressed 2.2% (vs progression of 3.4% in the control group) and when the worse lesions of over 50% stenosis were assessed the regression was 5.3% (vs progression 2.7% in the control group).
The improvements across all measures occurred in a positive dose response manner therefore, the highest adherers to the lifestyle changes experienced the best results. Whilst the results above are striking, significantly the researchers commented that a small regression in coronary lesions (reversing of narrowing) produces a large effect of myocardial perfusion.
In summary, even small changes in lifestyle factors involving nutrition, smoking, stress management, and exercise can slow down coronary atherosclerotic progression, however large changes over a prolonged period of time are required to halt and even reverse the narrowing of coronary arteries.
There are some notable similarities and difference in terms of lifestyle changes within this research and what we offer within our bespoke programs which we believe complement and maximise adherence to our 4 Pillar Model to help you Live Longer Better!