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That Vitamins May Prevent
in New England Journal of Medicine
UCSD School of
Medicine cardiologists, in conjunction with the Swiss Cardiovascular Center,
have found that vitamins that cost only pennies prevent repeat blockage of the
coronary artery after angioplasty. The findings were reported in the Nov. 29
issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
is a procedure in which atherosclerotic plaques which build up and clog the
coronary arteries are compressed against the vessel wall by expanding a
balloon-like device inserted through a catheter that has been threaded through
the artery. Hundreds of thousands of these procedures are performed in the
United States each year. Up to 40 percent of patients who undergo this
procedure develop restenosis or new blockage, erasing the initial benefit and
warranting repeat angioplasty or by-bass operation. Therefore “restenosis”
has been named by some experts as a modern plague that adds a considerable
burden to health care costs, according to UCSD cardiologist Guido Schnyder,
M.D., who led the study and is a visiting scholar from Switzerland.
Schnyder found that in
patients who orally ingested a vitamin pill containing one milligram of folic
acid, 400 micrograms of vitamin B-12 and 10 milligrams of vitamin B-6 the
chance of restenosis dropped 48 percent.
It has long been known
that these vitamins lower homocysteine levels, and that slightly elevated
homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk of heart disease,
Schnyder said. This is the first ever clinical trial to examine the effects of
these vitamins on heart disease.
Of the 205 patients
– all from the Swiss Cardiovascular Center – in the double-blind
randomized study, 105 were given B-vitamins and 100 were given placebo. Of the
group of patients receiving placebo, 37.6 percent experienced restenosis,
while only 19.6 percent of those taking the B-vitamins developed repeat
“This has proven to
be a very effective and inexpensive treatment for preventing coronary
restenosis,” Schnyder said.
As a result of these
findings, in which no adverse effects were detected, Schnyder said he suggests
physicians put their patients on this vitamin regimen following successful
The study was funded
by the Swiss National Science Foundation and Swiss Cardiovascular Center at
the University Hospital in Bern, Switzerland. Also involved in the study were
Marco Roffi, M.D. (The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH), Riccardo
Pin, M.D., Yvonne Flammer M.D. (Swiss Cardiovascular Center, University
Hospital Bern, Switzerland), Helmut Lange, M.D. (Kardiologische Praxis,
Bremen, Germany), Franz R. Eberli, M.D., Bernhard Meier, M.D. (Swiss
Cardiovascular Center, University Hospital Bern, Switzerland), Zoltan G. Turi,
M.D. (University of California, San Diego), and Otto M. Hess, M.D. (Swiss
Cardiovascular Center, University Hospital Bern, Switzerland).
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