C, E may aid heart transplant patients
NEW YORK, Mar 29 (Reuters Health) - The antioxidant
vitamins C and E might help slow artery disease in patients who
have recently had a heart transplant, results of a small study suggest.
Coronary arteriosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing
of heart arteries, commonly develops in the few years after a heart
transplant. As methods of preventing organ rejection have improved,
the longer-range complication of arteriosclerosis in these patients
has taken on more importance, according to the authors of the new
In their study of 40 heart transplant patients,
daily treatment with vitamins C and E helped to minimize the growth
of artery-clogging plaque over one year. Researchers led by Dr.
James C. Fang of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts,
report the findings in the March 30th issue of The Lancet.
The study patients were also on cholesterol-lowering
statin medication, but the vitamins inhibited plaque growth "over
and above" the effects of statin therapy, Fang's team reports.
Patients who took cholesterol drugs and the vitamins showed only
slight thickening in their artery walls, while those on cholesterol
medication alone had more substantial thickening.
Antioxidants like vitamins C and E help neutralize
the effects of damaging forms of oxygen known as reactive oxygen
species, and some research has suggested antioxidants are protective
against heart disease and cancer.
According to Fang and his colleagues, their results
support the idea that oxidative stress contributes to arteriosclerosis
after heart transplantation. Moreover, the results suggest "a
potentially useful therapy," the researchers write.
Larger trials are needed to confirm these results
and to see whether the benefits of vitamins C and E in transplant
patients persist over several years, they add.
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