Heart disease in all its forms continues to be the top killer of Americans. Following a heart-healthy diet like this one and getting plenty of exercise can help, but health experts continue to search for even more effective treatment—and they may have found one: A new study suggests that an antioxidant can breathe new life into old and stiff arteries.
In the small study—published in the journal Hypertension—researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder gave ten volunteers between the ages of 60 and 79 a daily supplement called MitoQ (it’s a refined version of the natural antioxidant coenzyme Q10); another ten got a placebo. After six weeks, the researchers analyzed the health and size of participants’ arteries, then switched the supplement group to the placebo while the others began taking MitoQ.
At the conclusion of their testing, researchers noted when volunteers got the supplement, their arteries regained flexibility. Essentially, MitoQ seemed to reverse artery aging by as much as 15 to 20 years. The study’s lead author, post-doctoral student Matthew Rossman said in a press release that “An improvement of that magnitude, if sustained, is associated with about a 13 percent reduction in heart disease.” (These are the 5 types of heart disease and their warning signs.)
According to Rossman’s co-author Doug Seals, PhD, the study “breathes new life into the discredited theory that supplementing the diet with antioxidants can improve health.” He went on to note that “it suggests that targeting… mitochondria may be a better way to reduce oxidative stress and improve cardiovascular health with aging.”
Both Rossman and Dr. Seals plan to conduct additional follow-up studies to confirm their findings. Dr. Seals noted that physical activity and proper eating habits continue to be the best ways of avoiding heart disease. “At the public health level, not enough people are willing to do that,” he said. “We’re looking for complementary, evidence-based options to prevent age-related changes that drive disease. These supplements may be among them.”
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