By now, we all know that high blood pressure and increased risk for heart disease is cause by poor diet, lack of exercise, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. The causes and risk factors for heart disease are pretty cut and dry. We also know that stress and attitude play pivotal roles in an individual’s risk for heart disease – more stress usually tends towards higher risk for cardiovascular problems. With that said, some new research out of California is turning a lot of heads with it’s innovative look into some secret, little-known risk factors for heart disease.


The Study

Two professors of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at U.C. Berkeley conducted a study on three separate groups of people e- one group remained in Japan, one group moved to Hawaii, and a third group immigrated to California. The researchers wanted to determine “whether the Japanese had low rates of heart disease in their home country because of their low-fat diet, and whether the rate went up when they adopted a typical burger-and-fries American diet.”


Results showed what researchers expects – the group that moved to California was at five times greater risk for heart disease then those who stayed in Japan. The Hawaii group fell midway between the two as far as heart disease rates.


However, those numbers do little to tell the whole story. Researchers found that “immigration didn’t automatically cause heart disease.” In fact, “results appeared to be completely independent of any of the usual supposed risk factors of heart disease.”


Ultimately the study found that “the most traditional group of Japanese Americans, who maintained strong social ties, had a heart attack rate as low as their fellow Japanese back home, while those who had adopted the Western, more isolated, go-ahead lifestyle increased their heart-attack incidence by three to five times.”


Men, Social Isolation, and Cardiovascular Disease

It is well known that men have a higher death rate from heart disease then women. Although heart disease kills more men and women then any other disease, men are more likely to die from heart disease then women.


This study has shed some light on the interesting dynamic that women share with close and personal friends compared to men and their social life, and how these social dynamics affect cardiovascular risks. Women have stronger social ties and are more inclined to share their feelings with their close friends. On the other hand, men have fewer ‘close’ relationships with friends and are very limited when it comes to sharing their feelings with their guy friends.


Could this by why men are more at risk for fatal heart attacks then women? This U.C. Berkeley study seems to prove that might be the case.


Reducing Risk for Heart Attack

Of course, there are the traditional and statistical risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking, diet, exercise, stress, and alcohol. These are the elements that will need to be altered in order to reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors.


Arginine supplements are also an element that can help to lower blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular risk by improving blood flow.


And, according to this new study, increasing your social network can also reduce your heart attack risk. So, make a new friend today!