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Jan 20 2009

Low Antioxidant Levels Linked to Asymptomatic Coronary Artery Disease

Low plasma concentrations of the antioxidant vitamins A and E and the carotenoids beta carotene and lycopene are significantly associated with atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries, a new study has found.

Atherosclerosis remains clinically mute for a long time and frequently manifests itself with an acute cardiovascular event. The possibility of detecting this disease in a subclinical phase and reducing or reversing its progression is therefore an issue of relevance.

Researchers studied 220 consecutive, asymptomatic participants and examined their carotid arteries by ultrasound to determine the thickness of the arteries and whether the arteries had developed pre-atherosclerotic lesions. A medical history also was taken, a physical examination was performed and blood samples were analyzed for concentrations of antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids.

The scientists found that low concentrations of vitamin A, vitamin E, lycopene and beta carotene were significantly associated with carotid atherosclerosis as measured by increased thickness of the carotid arteries. In addition, marginally higher body mass index and low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were also associated with carotid atherosclerosis. Other factors considered in the study (total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides and C-reactive protein) were not significantly associated with carotid atherosclerosis.

According to the researchers, “Low plasma concentrations of antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, E and beta-carotene) and lycopene were associated with early carotid atherosclerotic lesions as measured by carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT). Regular intake of foods rich in lycopene and antioxidant vitamins may slow the progression of atherosclerosis.”

Reference:

Riccioni G, Bucciarelli T, D’Orazio N, Palumbo N, di Ilio E, Corradi F, Pennelli A, Bazzano LA. Plasma Antioxidants and Asymptomatic Carotid Atherosclerotic Disease. Ann Nutr Metab. 2008 Oct 21;53(2):86-90.

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