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Vitamin E may safeguard bypass hearts.

Vitamin E may safeguard bypass hearts

A purified form of vitamin E appears to protect the heart from toxic "free radicals" that can damage cardiac tissue during coronary artery bypass surgery.

Vitamin E, abundant in such foods as wheat germ, leafy green vegetables, sunflower seeds, almonds and peanuts, functions in the body as an antioxidant, preventing formation of dangerous substances called free radicals. During the final phase of bypass surgery -- an operation to improve blood flow to the heart -- free radicals form as surgeons briefly flood the heart with richly oxygenated blood. Until now, cardiac surgeons have had no way of shielding the heart from these substances.

Terrence Yau of the University of Toronto reports that presurgical supplementation with vitamin E improves the heart's ability to pump during the especially risky five-hour postoperative period. He and his colleagues base their conclusion on a study of 14 people who took 300 milligrams of highly purified vitamin E every day for two weeks prior to their bypass operations, and another 14 bypass patients who received placebo pills. While the results seem promising, Yau stresses the preliminary nature of the small-scale study and calls for further research to solidify vitamin E's role as the heart's bodyguard during bypass surgery.
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Author:Fackelmann, Kathy A.
Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 24, 1990
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