Vitamins C and E support breathing following an operation

September 11, 2002

Patients who have recently undergone an operation experience less breathing problems after being given a cocktail of vitamins C and E. This is the conclusion reached by researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center following experiments with patients and healthy volunteers.

During the first two to three days after a major abdominal operation, most patients have frequent episodes of airway obstruction and hypoxaemia. This can lead to an increase in the heart rate and blood pressure, which can eventually result in heart muscle damage. An apparently restful patient where nothing seems to be wrong can then suddenly experience an unexpected heart attack.

The breathing problems are a side effect of the necessary sedatives and painkillers which recovering patients receive. The researchers from Leiden discovered that the medicines enhance each other's undesirable side effects.

In searching for the mechanism behind the breathing problems, it transpired that the administration of vitamins C and E prevents many of the problems. After an encouraging experiment with vitamins C and E on an experimental animal, the researchers subjected 34 healthy men to a test. The volunteers received less oxygen than normal for a period of three minutes. Prior to this some of the men had to take sedatives and vitamins C and E. Another group were not allowed vitamins.

The group who had taken vitamins experienced fewer disruptions to the breathing than the control group who had not taken vitamins. The researchers suspect that stress and pain after an invasive operation bring about a positive effect. Stress and pain keep the body, and thereby the breathing, relatively alert.

In follow-on studies the researchers want to determine whether vitamin C has to be given in combination with vitamin E. They will also study other sorts of sedatives and painkillers. In addition to this they will further examine the role of stress and pain after an operation. Particular attention will be given to the carotid body, a special organ in the carotid artery. This organ seems to function poorly in recovering patients.
-end-
Further information can be obtained from Dr Diederik Nieuwenhuijs (Department of Anaesthesiology, Leiden University Medical Center), tel. 31-71-526-2301 (secretariat), fax 31-71-524-8230 (secretariat), e-mail d.j.f.nieuwenhuijs@lumc.nl. The defence of the doctoral thesis took place on 4 September 2002. Dr Nieuwenhuijs' supervisor was Prof. J.W. van Kleef.

The research was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

Related Stress Articles from Brightsurf:

Stress-free gel
Researchers at The University of Tokyo studied a new mechanism of gelation using colloidal particles.

Early life stress is associated with youth-onset depression for some types of stress but not others
Examining the association between eight different types of early life stress (ELS) and youth-onset depression, a study in JAACAP, published by Elsevier, reports that individuals exposed to ELS were more likely to develop a major depressive disorder (MDD) in childhood or adolescence than individuals who had not been exposed to ELS.

Red light for stress
Researchers from the Institute of Industrial Science at The University of Tokyo have created a biphasic luminescent material that changes color when exposed to mechanical stress.

How do our cells respond to stress?
Molecular biologists reverse-engineer a complex cellular structure that is associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS

How stress remodels the brain
Stress restructures the brain by halting the production of crucial ion channel proteins, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

How plants handle stress
Plants get stressed too. Drought or too much salt disrupt their physiology.

Stress in the powerhouse of the cell
University of Freiburg researchers discover a new principle -- how cells protect themselves from mitochondrial defects.

Measuring stress around cells
Tissues and organs in the human body are shaped through forces generated by cells, that push and pull, to ''sculpt'' biological structures.

Cellular stress at the movies
For the first time, biological imaging experts have used a custom fluorescence microscope and a novel antibody tagging tool to watch living cells undergoing stress.

Read More: Stress News and Stress Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.