Vitamin E does not help improve heart health, study finds

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Scientists from Hamilton General Hospital found that vitamin E does not change heart disease risk in people with high risks.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with several forms. Its main role is to act as an antioxidant.

Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures.

Recent studies have found that antioxidants could neutralize or remove free radicals by donating an electron. The neutralizing effect of antioxidants helps protect the body from oxidative stress.

Several studies have found that the amount of vitamin E ingested in food and in supplements is linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis (thickening or hardening of the arteries).

In this study, the team examined 2545 women and 6996 men 55 years of age or older who were at high risk for heart attack and stroke because they had big risk factors, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

These patients were assigned to receive either 400 IU of vitamin E daily from natural sources or a matching placebo and either an angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor (ramipril) or a matching placebo for a mean of 4.5 years.

The team measured the incidence of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart causes.

They also examined unstable angina (the heart doesn’t get enough blood flow and oxygen), congestive heart failure, amputation, death from any cause, complications of diabetes, and cancer.

The researchers found that a total of 772 of the 4761 patients assigned to vitamin E (16.2 percent) and 739 of the 4780 assigned to placebo (15.5 percent) had a heart attack or stroke or death.

There were no big differences in the numbers of deaths from heart disease causes, heart attack, or stroke.

There were also no big differences in the incidence of other heart-related diseases or in death from any cause. The team found there were no strong adverse effects of vitamin E.

These findings suggest that in people at high risk for heart disease events, treatment with vitamin E for a mean of 4.5 years had no apparent effect on heart health.

The research is published in The New England Journal of Medicine and was conducted by S Yusuf et al.

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