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Remote Amazon tribe may have healthiest hearts on earth [ Op-ed ] 20/03/2017
Remote Amazon tribe may have healthiest hearts on earth
A primitive Amazonian tribe appears to have the best heart health in the world, living a simple existence that inadvertently provides them extraordinary protection against heart disease, researchers report.

The Tsimane people of Bolivia lead an active life of subsistence farming and foraging for food in the Amazon rainforest, said study author Dr. Gregory Thomas. He is medical director of the Memorial Care Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Memorial, in California.

Thanks to their unique lifestyle, most Tsimane have arteries unclogged by the cholesterol plaques that drastically increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in modern Americans, Thomas said.

CT scans revealed that hardened arteries are five times less common among the Tsimane than in U.S. adults, Thomas said.

"We found that based on their lifestyle, 85 percent of this population can live their whole life without any heart artery atherosclerosis [hardening]," Thomas said. "They basically have the physiology of a 20-year-old."

The Tsimane also have lower heart rates, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels compared to the rest of the world, Thomas added.

Thomas and his colleagues have been studying mummies for ancient evidence of heart disease, and have found hardened blood vessels in mummies as old as 3,500 years.

The heart researchers learned of the Tsimane through anthropologists who have been studying the tribe, in a research effort led by Hillard Kaplan, a professor at the University of New Mexico.

"Kaplan and his team felt they had rarely seen any heart disease in this Amazonian tribe," Thomas said. "They\'d only heard of one heart attack that had happened."
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