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Postby Nick » Tue Aug 12, 2003 7:49 pm

Vitamins help beat cholesterol

Children and young adults who have inherited high cholesterol may reduce their risk of clogged arteries by taking vitamins C and E, researchers have reported.

The vitamins improve blood flow through the arteries and may prevent the damage that leads to atherosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries, the researchers said.

Writing in the journal Circulation, Marguerite Engler of the University of California in San Francisco said the study by researchers in the US and Austria is the first to show that vitamins can reverse the damage.

"When we gave these children moderate doses of vitamins C and E for six weeks, we saw a significant improvement in blood-vessel function, which is an important indicator of cardiovascular health," Engler said in a statement.

An estimated 50 million US children have high levels of cholesterol, and thus a high risk of heart disease and heart attack.

The American Heart Association defines this as cholesterol of 200 or higher and low-density lipoprotein - LDL or "bad" cholesterol - of 130 or higher.

Drugs including statins work very well to lower cholesterol levels in adults but they can have severe side-effects and are not usually recommended for children. :roll:

"The findings of this study suggest hope for children with abnormally high cholesterol levels that their condition can be improved through vitamin supplements," said Patricia Grady, director of the National Institute of Nursing Research, which helped fund the study.

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables and low in fat, especially animal fat, have also been shown to lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease but most Americans do not eat this kind of diet.

"Our dilemma was that these kids are supposed to be getting servings of fruits and vegetables a day but they aren't," Engler said in a telephone interview.

"We thought, 'let's still keep up the diet counselling but also let's try the vitamin supplements'."

Engler's team studied 15 children and young adults age 9 to 20, who had average cholesterol levels of 242 with LDL of 187 on average.

Half the children got daily does of 500 milligrams of vitamin C and 400 international units of vitamin E for six weeks. The other half got placebos.

Then the groups were switched.

Better diet alone reduced LDL by about 8 per cent, but the vitamins, as expected, did not affect cholesterol levels.

The researchers measured how well the arteries were working by examining flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery.

They were looking for signs of endothelial dysfunction, which can cause blood vessels to stiffen, meaning they do not stretch to accommodate increased blood flow. It is one of the earliest signs of atherosclerosis.

The endothelium is the inner lining of the blood vessels. It releases nitric oxide, which causes the blood vessels to open.

The vitamins may restore this process in damaged arteries by reacting with charged particles known as free radicals that damage cells.

Flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery was around 6 at the start and for those patients given placebo or diet alone, but it was 9.5 after the children got the vitamins.

"Normal FMD of the brachial artery in children is reportedly between 8 per cent and 12 per cent," the researchers wrote.

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Postby Nick » Wed Nov 05, 2003 1:17 pm

Type of cholesterol is like 'Drano for arteries,' might reverse heart disease

ROB STEIN; The Washington Post

A synthetic form of "good cholesterol" has been shown to quickly shrink blockages clogging coronary arteries, offering for the first time the possibility of a drug that could rapidly reverse heart disease, researchers reported Tuesday.

"The concept is sort of liquid Drano for the coronary arteries," said Dr. Steven Nissen, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist who led the study.

Larger and longer studies need to be done to determine if the experimental treatment will translate into fewer deaths, but the early results are promising, said Dr. Daniel Rader, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

In a small, preliminary study, the laboratory-made substance, which mimics a type of cholesterol discovered in a group of surprisingly healthy villagers in rural Italy, significantly reduced in just six weeks the amount of plaque narrowing arteries of heart attack and chest pain patients, the researchers reported.

Because the approach attacks the underlying source of many heart attacks, the results could mark a milestone in the search for new ways to treat the nation's No. 1 killer, researchers said.

"For the first time, we've shown that you can reverse coronary disease with drug therapy in a matter of weeks," Nissen said. "We really have, for the first time, the opportunity to attack this disease at its fundamental basis. It's a paradigm shift. It's opening a new door."

Nissen and other researchers cautioned that the study involved only 47 patients, and further studies are needed to confirm the findings, fully evaluate the drug's safety and determine whether the treatment cuts the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

"It's extremely preliminary," said Susan Bennett, clinical director of the George Washington University Hospital Women's Heart Program, speaking on behalf of the American Heart Association. "But it is very intriguing."

Regardless of whether this drug eventually offers a practical, effective treatment, other experts said the study has opened up a new way to approach treating atherosclerosis, known commonly as hardening of the arteries.

"This is the first true test of the concept that specifically targeting HDL, the good cholesterol, can impact plaque and atherosclerosis in humans," said Daniel Rader, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania, who wrote an editorial accompanying the new study in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Scientists have long known there are two forms of cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad cholesterol" accumulates inside artery walls, causing the vessels to narrow and setting the stage for heart attacks and strokes. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is called the "good cholesterol" because it protects against heart disease, primarily by lowering LDL levels.

About 30 years ago, researchers discovered a group of about 40 people living in the small rural northern Italian town of Limone Sul Garda who had a surprisingly low rate of heart disease despite their extremely low HDL levels. Scientists determined that their HDL was slightly unusual, raising the possibility that it provided unusually powerful protection against heart disease.

Esperion Therapeutics Inc. of Ann Arbor, Mich., developed a genetically engineered form of this version of HDL, dubbed ApoA-I Milano, and showed that it reduced plaque inside the arteries of laboratory animals. The company then asked Nissen to test it in people.

In the study, Nissen and colleagues at 10 centers around the country gave weekly infusions of either the synthetic HDL or an inert placebo to 47 heart disease patients for five weeks. The plaques clogging the walls of their arteries were carefully measured before and after the treatment using a precise ultrasound technique.

Compared to those who received the placebo, the patients who received the synthetic HDL experienced about a 4 percent reduction in the plaques lining their arteries, a reduction 10 times greater than anything scientists had tried previously, the researchers found.

"When the statisticians delivered the data to me, I fell off my chair," Nissen said in a telephone interview. "We've run across something that can literally clear out the plaque in just a few weeks. That's unprecedented."

Na de doop (plagerijen)! :roll:
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