Patients recovering from heart transplant operations could get a boost from vitamins C and E, according to new research from the US. The vitamins are thought to help combat arteriosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries which affects as many as 70 per cent of heart transplant patients. Within the first three years after surgery.
A team of researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston discovered that patients who took the vitamin supplements over a year were not affected by arteriosclerosis, suggesting that the antioxidant properties of the vitamins helped combat the build-up of oxidised cholesterol which causes arteriosclerosis.
Writing in the British journal The Lancet , lead author of the research, Dr James Fang, said that 40 heart transplant patients were given either 100mgs of vitamin C and vitamin E or a placebo, as well as a cholesterol-lowering drug, over the period of a year.
The team then investigated the build-up of plaque - the substance made up of fat, cholesterol and other substances which causes the arteries to harden - over the period, and discovered that the area affected by plaque increased by 8 per cent in the placebo group while there was virtually no new plaque in the supplemented group.
Dr Fang said: "Our results suggest that vitamins C and E provide a clinically useful approach to reducing arteriosclerosis after cardiac transplantation. Antioxidant therapy with these vitamins may also be useful in other solid-organ transplants, such as kidney, lung, and liver transplants."
He concluded: "Further investigations are warranted to investigate whether the beneficial effects of vitamins C and E are sustained over many years when most of the clinical complications resulting from transplant-associated arteriosclerosis occur."