Green Tea improves heart function in patients with amyloidosis

April 26, 2010

     Amyloidosis is a disease that occurs when amyloid proteins build up in your organs. Amyloid is an abnormal protein produced by cells in your bone marrow; amyloid can be deposited in any tissue or organ. Amyloidosis can affect different organs in different people, and there are many types of amyloid. Amyloidosis frequently affects the heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract; the symptoms depend on which organs are affected, for instance you could have kidney or heart damage.
     The most common form of amyloidosis can affect many areas, including your heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, nerves, intestines, skin, tongue and blood vessels. The exact cause is unknown, but doctors do know that the disease begins in your bone marrow. In addition to producing red and white blood cells and platelets, your bone marrow makes antibodies — proteins that protect you against infection and disease. After antibodies serve their function, your body breaks them down and recycles them. Amyloidosis occurs when cells in the bone marrow produce antibodies that can't be broken down. These antibodies then build up in your bloodstream. Ultimately, they leave your bloodstream and can deposit in your tissues as amyloid, interfering with normal function.
Anyone can develop primary amyloidosis, but certain factors place you at greater risk. The majority of people who develop amyloidosis are older than 40. Also, you may be at increased risk if you have a chronic infectious or inflammatory disease. If you have kidney disease requiring dialysis, you have an increased risk of dialysis-associated amyloidosis. This is because dialysis can't remove large proteins from the blood, so large, abnormal proteins may build up and deposit in surrounding tissues. This condition is less common with modern dialysis techniques.
     Previous research has shown that Green Tea helps break down one dangerous type of amyloid protein; the one that attacks and destroys regions of the brain in Alzheimer’s disease (beta-amyloid protein). In this newer study, researchers from the University of Heidelberg supplemented 59 amyloidosis patients with established damage to their heart caused by the amyloid with Green Tea. 22 additional similar-patients were not supplemented with Green Tea. The patients had their hearts checked every 3 to 6 months. Giving Green Tea reduced the level of heart failure from an average NYHA class of III to II. In NYHA class III which would be moderate heart failure there is marked limitation of physical activity. Patients are comfortable at rest, but low level activity causes fatigue, palpitation, or dyspnea (difficulty in breathing). In stage II or mild heart failure there is slight limitation of physical activity. The patients are comfortable at rest, but ordinary physical activity results in fatigue, palpitation, or dyspnea. The Green Tea was restoring the heart muscle to normalcy, with a significant decrease in left ventricular wall thickness and mass (this means very significant improvement). Green Tea helped restore the normal pumping activity with the non-treated group having a left ventricular ejection fraction of 53 which is slightly below normal and the Green Tea group having an ejection fraction of 65 which is very normal; the Green Tea group had improvement but the other group did not. The study is published in the journal Clinical Research in Cardiology: official journal of the German Cardiac Society.