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Study Shows Garlic and Vitamins May Reduce Heart Disease

Could garlic help you reduce the chance of heart disease? It’s looking that way, according to scientists at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. According to a recent research report, aged garlic, vitamins and other nutrients have been combined into a pill and are being credited to slowing the progression of atherosclerosis. Keep reading for more information on this possible new discovery.

What is atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis.  It occurs when fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin (a clotting material in the blood) build up in the inner lining of an artery.  This buildup is called plaque.

Arteriosclerosis is a thickening and hardening of the arteries.  Plaque can partially or totally block the blood’s flow through an artery.  A heart attack or stroke could happen if there is bleeding into the plaque, called hemorrhaging, or a blood clot forms on the plaque’s surface.

The Study
The study was done to prove that garlic and vitamins help reduce atherosclerosis.  65 people of about 60 years old that were at an intermediate risk for heart disease took a placebo pill or a pill that contained aged garlic extract, vitamin B-12, folic acid, vitamin B-6 and L-arginine for one year.  Out of the 65 participants, 58 patients completed the study.

The patients were given cholesterol tests and other blood tests every three months.  They received heart scans at the beginning and end of the study.

The atherosclerosis was not as advanced with the participants taking garlic and vitamin pills compared to those taking a placebo. 

“The patients' age, gender, degree of atherosclerosis at the study's start, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes medications didn't affect the result,” according to researchers, which  included Matthew Budoff, MD, associate professor of medicine, and Naser Ahmadi, MD, of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

It's not clear which ingredient in the pill mattered most, but Budoff stated that the aged garlic extract delivered the "primary benefit," though other ingredients may have lowered the patients' blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with higher risk of heart disease.

Not only can this new pill help to reduce heart disease, but Vitamin C supplements can too.  Vitamin C is an antioxidant nutrient found in vegetables and fruits. 

Studies have been done to prove that a small amount of vitamin C can protect against heart disease in healthy women. 

Studies have also shown that vitamin C is helpful in chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, and cancer.  Other research has shown that heart disease risk is higher in people whose dietary intake of vitamin C is low or non-existent.  Heart disease is one of the leading causes of deaths each year.

More studies need to be conducted for the potential ability of garlic plus vitamins to slow down heart disease, but the initial results are promising. 

Ahmadi presented the findings May 1, 2008, in Baltimore at the American Heart Association's 2008 Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Conference. The study was funded by Wakunaga of America, which makes the garlic pill used in the study. Budoff was in complete control of this study.

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