“Reduced blood vessel function is a hallmark of early development of coronary artery disease,” said cardiologist Yerem Yeghiazarians, MD, senior author, associate professor of medicine, and researcher in the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF. “If we can improve the health and function of damaged blood vessels, heart disease patients will have a better chance of survival.”
In 2005, researchers reported that an increased level of circulating angiogenic cells is associated with a decreased risk of death from cardiovascular causes (New England Journal of Medicine by Werner, N., et al.)
In the current study, the benefit seen from the two-fold increase in circulating angiogenic cells was similar to that achieved by therapy with statins and with lifestyle changes such as exercise and smoking cessation. The benefit demonstrated with cocoa flavanol therapy occurred in addition to the medical regimen already being taken by study participants.
“Our data support the concept that dietary flavanols at the levels provided - in tandem with current medical therapy - are safe, improve cardiovascular function, and increase circulating angiogenic cells, which have previously been shown to correlate positively with long-term cardiovascular outcomes” said Yeghiazarians. “Long-term trials examining the effects of high-flavanol diets on cardiovascular health and function are warranted, but these early findings help us understand how these compounds impact the function of damaged blood vessels.”
The study included 16 coronary artery disease patients aged 64 years (±three years) who received both a high-flavanol cocoa drink (containing 375 mg of flavanols) twice a day over 30 days and later a nutrient-matched low-flavanol cocoa drink (containing 9mg flavanols) twice a day over 30 days. Giving the same study participants both interventio
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