Life Extension Update
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Vitamin E reduces abdominal aortic aneurysm in mice
The August 1 2005 issue of the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (http://atvb.ahajournals.org/) published the findings of researchers from the University of Iowa that vitamin E administered to mice helped protect against the formation of abdominal aortic aneurysm. Abdominal aortic aneurysm is a ballooning of the abdominal portion of the body’s largest blood vessel, the aorta, and occurs in approximately 3 percent of humans over the age of 65. When enlarged, these aneurysms are subject to rupture, which can have life-threatening consequences. Recent research suggests that inflammation secondary to increased local levels of oxidative stress is involved in the development of this condition.
The current study utilized apolipoprotein E-deficient mice in which angiotensin II (which constricts the blood vessels) was infused, a procedure that results in the development of abdominal aortic aneurysms in 90 to 100 percent of treated animals. The mice received normal diets or diets enhanced vitamin E, while a group of apoplipoprotein E-deficient mice infused with saline rather than angiotensin II served as controls.
After four weeks of angiotensin II infusion, the aorta of the mice were examined for abdominal aortic aneurysm. As expected, the condition was found in 90 percent of mice treated with angiotensin II, however vitamin E supplementation lowered the incidence to 60 percent. In the group who received vitamin E, aneurysms were 24% percent smaller in diameter and weighed 34 percent less than those of the group who did not receive the vitamin. Additionally, vitamin E supplementation was associated with a 44 percent reduction in the number of animals who died before the study’s conclusion of fatal aneurysm rupture combined with those who had evidence of nonfatal rupture at the end of the study.
The oxidative stress marker, 8-isoprostane, was reduced in the vitamin E group, as was macrophage infiltration, an indicator inflammation, supporting the theory that oxidative stress may be involved in the development of abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Hypertension increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by affecting the performance of arteries. Normally, arteries expand and contract effortlessly with each heartbeat. With sustained hypertension, the arterial walls become thickened, inelastic, and resistant to blood flow. This process injures arterial linings and accelerates plaque formation. Nonfunctional blocked vessels are unable to expand to accommodate the flow of blood, and the left ventricle is forced to pick up the slack. The endless exertion proves too much, and the ventricle may become distended and hypertrophied. In exhaustion, the pump eventually fails. The health of the left ventricle is an extremely important assessment when evaluating the worthiness of the heart.
Arterial damage is invitational to spasms occurring in the walls of the arteries. The spasm further impedes the flow of blood, adding additional challenge to the ailing heart as it works to move the blood against the backflow. A lack of egress and the heart's aggressive action can cause a weakened area in the arterial wall to balloon, forming an aneurysm. The rupture of the artery can result in massive internal bleeding and death. An aneurysm or stroke, angina pectoris, and myocardial infarction are even more likely to occur if the individual has high cholesterol and/or elevated blood pressure.
Dr. Richard Passwater, a long-time vitamin E devotee, explains that the length of time in which vitamin E is used determines its cardiovascular defense. Dr. Passwater showed (1977) that taking 400 IU of vitamin E daily for 10 years or more dramatically reduced the occurrence of heart disease prior to 80 years of age. Also, the type and blend of vitamin E administered can alter outcome. The Life Extension Foundation has long advocated a complex of alpha-tocopherol (80%) with gamma-tocopherol (20%) for optimal protection.
Vitamin E is one of America’s most popular antioxidant supplements. According to a recent USDA study, that’s a good thing, because only 2.4% of American women and 8% of men get enough of the vitamin from food.
Vitamin E is fat-soluble and reduces the level of free radicals associated with lipids, such as those that affect cholesterol and those that affect the brain. For this reason, vitamin E has been intensively studied for its ability to prevent cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s diseases.
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