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<b>Talking about the Future of Heart Health with Dr. Matthew Budoff</b><br>

Talking about the Future of Heart Health with Dr. Matthew Budoff


If the possibilities of cardio protective supplements excite you as much as they do us, it’ll be hard for your pulse not to quicken when examining the accomplishments of accomplished cardiologist Dr.Matthew Budoff. Dr. Budoff is the first doctor in the world to mount a series of double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trials to test the effects of aged garlic extract (AGE) on atherosclerosis and endothelial function (i.e., vessel health). Data from Dr. Budoff’s ground-breaking studies has confirmed garlic’s ability to slow the progression of coronary artery plaque and arteriosclerotic vascular disease (ASVD), as well as helped quantify AGE’s potent effect on the biomarkers for oxidative stress. Not content to re-write the book on how we prevent and treat heart disease, Dr. Budoff is also a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, the president of the Society of Cardiovascular Computerized Tomography, and the author of over 300 articles and four text books. Last, but not least, Dr. Budoff is the principal investigator at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Needless to say, we here at Healthy Living were positively overjoyed when the very busy doctor agreed to an interview. Over the years, we’ve cited Dr. Budoff’s work in many AGE stories, but this was our first chance to actually talk to the man himself. And talk we did, about everything from how calcium scores are changing Americans’ approach to heart health, to what the future holds for aged garlic extract research.

Healthy Living: Let’s start with your work in cardiovascular computerized tomography. What is coronary arterial calcium (CAC) scoring?

Matthew Budoff:
Basically, CT scans let us look at early plaque and quantity it. Let’s say you have a plaque score of 32. We can follow that over the course of a year, and if the plaque score gets worse, we know that you’re having progression of heart disease.

Healthy Living: Let’s start with your work in cardiovascular computerized tomography. What is coronary arterial calcium (CAC) scoring?

Matthew Budoff:
Basically, CT scans let us look at early plaque and quantity it. Let’s say you have a plaque score of 32. We can follow that over the course of a year, and if the plaque score gets worse, we know that you’re having progression of heart disease.

HL: And what are computerized tomography and plaque scores telling us about our heart and vascular health that we didn’t—or couldn’t—know 20 years ago?

MB:
Historically, we’ve always waited until the last minute—for the end-stage disease—to discover that there’s a problem. For example, going back to President Clinton, eight years of getting treadmill tests revealed no problems—one year out of the White House and he needs a fibroid bypass. The treadmill test is archaic and it only shows us the latest disease—the very end of the heart disease when the arteries are say 70 to 80 percent blocked. The CT scans—the plaque scores—now allow us to look at heart disease in a different way,to find, for example, 3 or 5 percent blockages. So we can find disease at a much, much earlier stage than we used to.

HL: Knowing what you know about ASVD warning signs, what is your personal routine for maintaining good cardio health?

MB:
I take a baby aspirin, I exercise at least three times a week—mostly run, a little bit of weights. And for supplements I take Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and Kyolic® Aged Garlic Extract™ Formula 100.

HL: We’re huge fans of Kyolic AGE. What made you decide these past few years that it was time to put AGE under the microscope?

MB:
One of the major reasons was to really validate all of garlic’s small health benefits—for cholesterol, blood pressure, endothelial function—and see if it added up to a significant slowing of the actual plaque process, and if it slowed down ASVD itself.

HL: In layman’s terms, what component in AGE inhibits plaque progression and ASVD?

MB:
That’s a very good question. To be honest, I’m not sure we know yet. AGE has a lot of active components.We’re looking at something called S-allylcysteine (SAC). That’s one of the active components, but it’s not the only one, for sure.

HL: Is AGE better used as a preventive for coronary risk factors, or when one already suffers from ASVD?

MB:
We’ve studied both. We just finished a study of firefighters at risk for heart disease, and they benefited, and our first study was actually patients with known heart disease, and they benefited. I think that AGE works across the spectrum of people at risk for atherosclerosis, as well as those who have it. It may be akin to cholesterol medications, or statins, which have been shown to work before the first heart attack, but also after the first heart attack.

HL: Have you found that any particular ages, genders, or ethnic groups benefit more or less from AGE supplementation?

MB:
That’s part of our current research now, looking at subgroups to define who may benefit more. We’re trying to figure out, ‘Do men benefit more?Do women? Do people with diabetes or metabolic syndromes?

HL: When can we expect results from these studies?

MB:
The study on firefighters was presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) 2010 Summit. We should have papers on our current studies (i.e., AGE’s effect on men versus women) done by June 2011.

HL: Why should we supplement with AGE rather than eat more garlic or garlic-rich foods?

MB:
I think it’s just an unknown when you eat garlic in your meal as to how much gets absorbed. If we cook it, does that deactivate some of the active components? If we dice it, does that change it? We think that the odor of garlic is actually oxidation, and that’s bad for you. The more robust the odor, at least the theory goes, the more active oxidants garlic still has in it. The nice thing about AGE, at least as a researcher, is that it’s not only odorless—so I don’t know if the patient is taking it or not, and thus can be blinded in my research—but also, we think AGE is where we get the major benefits of the antioxidants. Letting garlic sit for up to 18 months as part of the aging process before it’s sold gets rid of that oxidation up front.

HL: Beyond the studies on how different demographics respond to AGE, what’s next for your research? Do you have a “dream study” you’d undertake if money were no object?

MB:
All of these studies I’ve done so far are really just an intermediate step in the big picture of proving that AGE changes lives. The bigger study that we want to propose is a randomized trial to show that you live longer by being on garlic therapy, or that you have less heart attacks. That would be the ultimate validation, the proof that changes the guidelines. Then doctors will be able to say, ‘Garlic improves outcomes by 20 percent. Everyone should be on garlic.
 
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