~ Congestive Heart Failure and Vitamin C

Congestive heart failure patients experience dysfunction of the blood vessels' endothelium leading to a restriction of blood supply to the body, associated with weakening of the heart muscle. This endothelial dysfunction is caused by programmed cell death, or apoptosis, resulting from systemic inflammation and an increase in oxidative stress. In a study published in the October 30 2001 issue of of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, European researchers established a benefit of vitamin C in suppressing the signal for cell death within the inner lining, or endothelium, of blood vessels in congestive heart failure patients.

In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, thirty-four patients with congestive heart failure were randomized to receive infusions of either 2.5 grams vitamin C or a placebo. Baseline blood samples were drawn prior to and 15 minutes after the infusion. This was followed by a regimen of oral vitamin C or a placebo twice per day for three days. Blood samples were taken on the fifth day and plasma levels of apoptotic microparticles were measured to determine the level of apoptosis.

Study participants were found to have apoptotic particles that were 32% of baseline levels, while those receiving a placebo experienced no change.

Study coauthor Stefanie Dimmeler, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Frankfurt in Germany commented, "Increasing evidence suggests that oxidative stress regulates apoptosis of endothethial cells. Therefore, we questioned whether antioxidatant treatment with vitamin C could reduce endothelial cell death in CHF patients. This study, for the first time, proves the relevance of these findings by demonstrating that antioxidant treatment inhibits apoptosis of endothelial cells in patients with CHF. The findings might contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms of heart failure progression and could add antioxidant treatment as a novel strategy to delay progression of heart failure."

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