Low vitamin E tied to physical decline in the elderly
Older adults with low levels of vitamin E are likely to see a steeper deterioration
in physical function over a 3-year period than those with higher vitamin E levels,
a study shows. Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine studied 698
adults age 65 or older who were randomly selected in Tuscany, Italy. Physical
function was assessed using tests of walking speed, standing balance and other
physical abilities. The researchers excluded people with already low scores less
than 4 out of 12 possible points. Vitamin E was the only micronutrient associated
with reduced physical function after taking account of factors such as illnesses,
obesity, physical activity level, depression, and mental function. Compared to
people with the highest level of vitamin E, those with the lowest amount were
62 percent more likely to have at least a 1-point drop in their physical capacities.
The authors point out that vitamin E, being a powerful antioxidant, may protect
against DNA and muscle damage, atherosclerosis, and neurodegenerative disorders.
The study is published in this weeks Journal of the American Medical Association,
January 23, 2008.
A major review of 14 high-quality randomized placebo-controlled human clinical-trials
by the ultra-strict Cochrane Collaboration show that Hawthorn extract, an herbal
treatment for patients with heart failure, "significantly" improves
symptoms. In the trials that involved a total of 855 patients, Hawthorn’s
effects were gauged by adding either it or an inactive placebo (for comparisons
sake) to conventional therapy:
Compared to placebo, Hawthorn extract;
- improved maximal workload of the heart muscle (it pumped blood better)
- significantly increased exercise tolerance (the body was re3ceiving more oxygenated-blood
and the heart was protected)
- reduced oxygen consumption by the heart (made it more efficient)
- significantly reduced shortness of breath and fatigue (because function of
the circulatory system improved)
"There is good evidence that, when used alongside conventional therapy,
Hawthorn extract can bring additional benefits," says lead researcher Dr
Ruoling Guo, from Peninsula Medical School at the Universities of Exeter and
"If I had chronic heart failure, I certainly would consider (using) it,"
said review co-author Dr. Max Pittler, deputy director of complementary medicine
at Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, England.
The review does not include results of a large new study -- unpublished to date
-- that suggested hawthorn has an effect on improving lifespan and survival;
and although limited, this is hard to achieve in heart failure patients, not
to mention the benefit of improved day-to-day quality of life.
At issue is heart failure, a common condition that is both debilitating and
deadly. An estimated five million Americans suffer from heart failure, which
is often the result of clogged arteries that put stress on the heart by forcing
it to work harder.
As a result, the heart becomes larger while failing to effectively move blood
around the body. This causes fluids to build up in the legs and lungs, often
causing shortness of breath and other symptoms.
The analysis found that hawthorn, as compared to placebo, also decreased the
"pressure-heart rate product," a measurement of how much oxygen is
used by the heart. In addition, the analysis reports that two other measurements
-- exercise tolerance, and shortness of breath and fatigue -- improved "significantly"
in patients who used hawthorn.
Overall, the review showed a "significant benefit in symptom control and
physiologic outcomes" in patients who took Hawthorn, Pittler said. According
to him, the extract appears to boost the strength of heart contractions, increase
blood flow through arteries and reduce irregular heartbeats (dangerous and often
life-threatening arrhythmias). The review appears in Issue 1, 2008 Cochrane
Database of Systematic Reviews.
Hawthorne helps reduce blood pressure in diabetics
Scientists at the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, The University of Reading
working in conjunction with physicians in private practice enrolled 79 patients
with type 2 diabetes who were taking diabetes medication. 71% of these patients
also took medication for high blood pressure. They gave 39 of these patients
Hawthorne Extract on a daily basis for 16 weeks while 40 patients received look-alike
but inactive placebo. The Hawthorne Extract significantly reduced their diastolic
blood pressure (the lower figure in a blood pressure reading) and had a small
effect of systolic pressure vs. placebo. There were no drug-herb interactions
and minor complaints decreased in both groups. The study is published in the
June 2006 issue of the British Journal of General Practice. Commentary by Jerry
Hickey, R.Ph.; reducing diastolic pressure is very significant because this
allows the heart to take a mini-rest in between filling up with blood and having
to pump it out to the rest of the body
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