Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute-led Research Reveals Coronary Disease is Completely Preventable

Tsimane boys fishing

Is it realistic for all of us to live as the Tsimane do? No, but it clearly demonstrates how we live has a profound impact on our heart health and we should strive to adopt these healthy lifestyle choices to the degree possible for each of us

Many of us are familiar with the traditional coronary risk factors – smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, and sedentary lifestyle. And we have a general idea of what we ought to eat. But, if you avoid rich food and rigorously exercise your whole life, can you truly avoid virtually any coronary heart disease?

Hoping to determine once and for all whether lifestyle factors, practiced in the extreme, really make all of the difference and whether hunter-gatherers really had healthier hearts, a group of cardiologists, anthropologists and medical researchers traveled to the remote Amazon to study a tribe living almost as man did thousands of years ago. The Tsimane Health and Life History Project (THLHP) team included scientists from institutions across the country, including Randall Thompson, M.D., from Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City.

Beginning in 2002, the THLHP team studied a tribe living in the remote Bolivian Amazon who have a lifestyle thought to be very similar to that of pre-modern humans – those living before urbanization and specialization. The Tsimane Amerindians fish, hunt, grow a few crops, and forage food from the Amazon region. They are also extremely active in their daily lives. They are moving almost all of their waking hours and walk between 15,000 and 20,000 steps per day virtually their entire adult lives. They have low cholesterol, no diabetes, minimal smoking and minimal hypertension. However, they do have a…

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