World's Healthiest Arteries on Record Found in Indigenous Bolivian Population — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
March 20, 2017

World's Healthiest Arteries on Record Found in Indigenous Bolivian Population

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and André Sofair, MD, MPH

Researchers have identified a population with the lowest recorded prevalence of coronary artery disease — the Tsimane, an indigenous group living a pre-industrial lifestyle in the Bolivian Amazon. The findings were reported in the Lancet and presented at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting this weekend.

Over 700 Tsimane adults aged 40 and older underwent coronary artery calcium CT scanning; their CAC scores were then compared with scores from population-based studies in high-income countries, including the U.S.

Overall, 85% of Tsimane participants had no CAC, while 3% had scores of 100 or higher, denoting significant atherosclerotic disease. In contrast, only 14% of the comparison U.S. population had no CAC, and over 50% had scores of 100 or higher. The findings, the researchers write, "translate to a 24-year lag before Tsimane reach a CAC score of above 0 and a 28-year lag before they reach a CAC score of at least 100 compared with an unselected U.S. population."

The Tsimane had low LDL levels, and they reportedly are physically active 4–7 hours daily.

The authors conclude: "These findings suggest that coronary atherosclerosis can be avoided in most people by achieving a lifetime with very low LDL, low blood pressure, low glucose, normal BMI, no smoking, and plenty of physical activity."

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