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Heart-healthy diet research by Liya Yin, M.D., Ph.D.

Researching Heart-Healthy Choices: Liya Yin, M.D., Ph.D.

What’s the latest thought on how our diets can keep our hearts fit?

Liya Yin, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of integrative medical sciences at NEOMED, can shed some new light, thanks to her research on heart and blood vessel disease, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Yin compares the hearts of healthy animals with those of obese or diabetic animals. What she has discovered certainly provides motivation for paying attention to diet. The animals that consumed a diet full of sugar and fat had little to no coronary collateral artery growth—which means that the heart muscle lacked the resilience to repair itself after damage from a cardiac event caused by artery blockage.

Here’s what happens after such a cardiac event: Even if an angioplasty is performed to clear the blockage, there may be residual blockage. The body will need to grow collaterals—additional arteries that provide the blood a new pathway to circulate. Without the collateral growth, the cardiac event may result in death, because the heart can’t adequately circulate the blood.

Avoiding excessive amounts of sugar and fat may be a key to maintaining a healthy diet and a heart that is more capable of collateral growth—potentially, making a lifesaving difference after a cardiac event.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of Ignite magazine.