Dr. John Day
Dr. Day is a cardiologist specializing in heart rhythm abnormalities at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and completed his residency and fellowships in cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology at Stanford University. He is the former president of the Heart Rhythm Society and the Utah chapter of the American College of Cardiology.
The 4 Secrets Why the Tsimane People Don’t Get Heart Disease, AFib, or Dementia
Tucked away in the secluded corners of the Bolivian Amazon, there’s a community that’s a source of fascination for researchers and health enthusiasts—the Tsimane people. Surrounded by the rich and diverse Amazon rainforest, the Tsimane live a life far removed from the advancements of modern society. Across generations, they’ve thrived by relying on the resources of the land while upholding a distinct social structure that greatly contributes to their exceptional health and overall well-being. In this article, we’ll delve into the four secrets as to why the Tsimane people don’t get heart disease, atrial fibrillation, or dementia.
Life in a Tsimane Village
In the villages lining the Amazon River in Bolivia, you’ll find about 16,000 Tsimane people. Their homes are built using natural materials such as wood, palm leaves, and thatch. What’s striking about their community is how closely-knit it is, fostering a strong sense of shared responsibility and support among its members.
The Tsimane way of life revolves around sustaining themselves from the land. They hunt, fish, and farm to meet their daily needs. Hunting provides meat, while fishing adds fish to their diet. Their farming includes growing crops like plantains, maize, and manioc. They also gather wild fruits, nuts, and other edible plants from the forest, which are crucial parts of what they eat.
Living in Tsimane villages means living with limited access to modern conveniences like electricity, running water, or high-tech gadgets. Their lifestyle is far removed from the complexities of the modern world.
Their community’s structure is based on family ties and social connections. Decisions are often made by reaching a consensus within the community, and the elders are highly respected for their wisdom and experience.
The Tsimane Don’t Get Heart Disease Study
For many years, Dr. Hillard Kaplan and his team from the National Institute on Aging and St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City have been amazed by the Tsimane people living deep in the Amazon jungle. These indigenous folks show an incredible resistance to heart disease. Recently, the results of their extensive research have grabbed global attention in the media.
The research team dived into a thorough study, visiting 85 Tsimane villages to closely check how common heart disease was among this community. They used CT scans on every adult Tsimane they could find for the study, a total of 705 participants. These scans were super important in looking at heart health, checking things like coronary artery calcification, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and signs of inflammation linked to heart disease.
For those not familiar with medical tests, a CT scan that looks at coronary artery calcification is a powerful way to find blockages or heart problems. And as we know, how we live greatly impacts whether we might get clogged arteries. Plus, the level of artery hardening often connects to how long a person might live. And if you’re interested in what you own coronary calcium score might be, for a fee of just $69, you can undergo this test at our hospital.
The research revealed something amazing: out of the 705 Tsimane adults studied, a huge 85% had no signs of any heart artery plaque. This gave them a perfect score of zero on this test, showing their hearts were in great shape. What’s even more incredible is that 65% of Tsimane folks over 75 years old had no heart plaque at all.
To put this in perspective, nearly all people over 75 in the United States have some heart artery plaque. What the Tsimane people showed in this study about their low heart disease risk is unlike anything seen before, showing just how resistant they are to heart issues compared to most people in the world.
Even though the Tsimane people face a lot of inflammation from dealing with many infections, they have the least amount of heart disease ever recorded compared to any other group. This study tells us that most people can prevent heart artery problems by having low cholesterol, keeping their blood pressure and sugar levels low, having a healthy weight, not smoking, and staying physically active throughout their lives.
The Tsimane Don’t Get Atrial Fibrillation Study
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