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Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
Date:11/24/2009

But the herbal supplement may help ward off peripheral artery disease, researchers say

TUESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Among people aged 75 and older, the herbal supplement Ginkgo biloba does not prevent heart attacks, stroke or death, a new study finds.

There is some evidence that the popular herbal remedy might help prevent the leg-circulation problem known as peripheral artery disease, however.

Ginkgo contains nutrients called flavonoids, which are also found in fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine, and are believed to offer some protection against cardiovascular events, the researchers say. The supplement, which is popular in the United States and Europe, has been touted to improve memory, and to prevent dementia, heart disease and stroke.

However, "ginkgo had no benefit in preventing heart attack or stroke," said study lead researcher Dr. Lewis H. Kuller, distinguished university professor of public health and professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.

"But, surprising to us, was that the results were consistent with the observations in Europe that ginkgo appeared to have some benefit in preventing peripheral vascular disease," he said.

This could be due to flavonoids acting as both antioxidants and also causing blood vessels to expand, Kuller said.

The report was released online Nov. 24 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Circulation. Last year the same University of Pittsburgh team reported that ginkgo biloba had no effect on preventing dementia.

For their latest study, Kuller's group randomly assigned 3,069 patients to 120 milligrams of highly purified ginkgo biloba or placebo, twice a day as part of the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory Study.

Over the six years of the trial, 385 participants died, 164 had heart attacks, 151 had strokes, 73 had mini-strokes ("transient ischemic attacks") and
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