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Over-the-counter antioxidant mix improved vascular health in some heart failure patients

April 09, 2019

Orlando, Fla. (April 7, 2019)--A combination of over-the-counter antioxidants shows promise for mitigating some damaging effects of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), a new study reports. The research, which will be presented today at the American Physiological Society's (APS) annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2019 in Orlando, Fla., is the first to evaluate the efficacy of antioxidants to improve vascular function in patients with HFpEF.

HFpEF, previously known as diastolic heart failure, is a chronic condition in which the heart does not fill properly. It is the most common form of heart failure among the elderly, particularly women. To date, very few treatments have proven successful in improving clinical status in patients with HFpEF. Because of this, there is a focus on treating the many comorbidities that accompany the disease, such as inflammation, which can impair vascular function.

In a double-blind study, 16 patients with HFpEF were given a placebo or an antioxidant cocktail consisting of alpha lipoic acid (600mg), vitamin C (1,000mg) and vitamin E (600IU). This was a balanced, cross-over study, which means that all participants receive both treatments sequentially, thus serving as their own controls. The research team measured various markers of vascular function, inflammation and oxidative stress. Though the measures of small blood vessel function and oxidative stress did not show changes, the measure of function in large blood vessels and of inflammation improved with treatment. Similarly, the presence of biologically available nitric oxide, a compound that helps blood vessels dilate, also increased.

The findings provide "new insight into the mechanisms that govern peripheral vascular dysfunction" in HFpEF patients, the researchers explained, and suggest that antioxidant administration may represent a simple and readily available option to improve vascular health in this patient group.

Stephen Ratchford, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Utah Department of Internal Medicine and the Salt Lake City VA Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC), will present "Impact of acute antioxidant administration on inflammation and vascular function in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction" Sunday, April 7, as part of the oral session "Aging, exercise and heart failure: common connections and new targets" in the Orange County Convention Center W312A. He will also present the poster on Tuesday, April 9, during the APS Cardiovascular Section Young Investigators poster session in West Hall B of the exhibit hall of the Orange County Convention Center.
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NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact the APS Communications Office or 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

About Experimental Biology 2019

Experimental Biology is an annual meeting comprised of more than 14,000 scientists and exhibitors from five sponsoring societies and multiple guest societies. With a mission to share the newest scientific concepts and research findings shaping clinical advances, the meeting offers an unparalleled opportunity for exchange among scientists from across the United States and the world who represent dozens of scientific areas, from laboratory to translational to clinical research.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,000 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.

American Physiological Society

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