A generation or so ago most people believed that ulcers and heart attacks were mainly due to stress. Antacids and the Sippy diet [lots of milk and cream] was the treatment of choice for ulcer patients.
Research that started with a hunch by Australian researchers revolutionized ulcer treatment by showing conclusively that most ulcers had little to do with stress or spicy foods and everything to do with a nasty little bacteria named Helicobacter pylori.
Antibiotics are now the treatment of choice of ulcers [both gastric and duodenal] and unlike antacids and acid blockers they treat the cause of the disease rather than the symptom.
A study by Italian researchers recently showed an association between a more virulent strain of Helicobacter pylori and ischemic heart disease (IHD)[Pasceri V. et al Circulation 1998:97:1675-79].
Dr. Pasceri results suggest that this bacteria may increase the risk of a heart attack by causing a persistent low grade inflammatory process that may speed up the atherosclerosis process. Patients who tested positive for this strain of the bacteria were 3.8 times more likely to suffer a heart attack. Perhaps patients with evidence of atherosclerosis and a history of recurrent ulcers and/or gastritis [not traced to NSAIDs] should be tested for Helicobacter pylori infection.
However, it is important to note that in rural China where Helicobacter pylori infections are far more common that in America (due to poorer sanatation) the incidence of IHD is also much lower - no doubt because they eat a diet that keeps most of their LDL-C levels well below 100mg/dl.
So just as Japanese men who smoked and had HTN rarely suffered from IHD back in the 1960s because their diet kept their LDL-C low, it is again clear that other risk factors for atherosclerosis and CHD are of minor and secondary import compared to a high total and LDL-C level.
By James J. Kenney, PhD, RD, FACN.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.