What's the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest?
A heart attack is a serious and life-threatening medical emergency.
It occurs when blood supply to the heart is cut off – usually due to a clot.
There are several factors that can raise your risk of a heart attack, with coronary heart disease known to be the biggest culprit.
This condition is caused by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.
Often this is linked to lifestyle, with diet as well as whether you smoke and drink alcohol playing a role.
As a result, those at risk of heart problems are advised to eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in saturated fat.
Now, research has suggested that drinking a certain vegetable juice could massively lower the risk of heart attack.
In a presentation given at the latest British Cardiovascular Society conference, a team from St Bartholomew’s Hospital and Queen Mary University in London revealed that beetroot juice could help protect against the medical emergency.
More specifically they found that drinking the juice every day for six months after having a stent fitted (a tube that is inserted to keep arteries open) reduced the chance of angina patients having a heart attack or needing a repeat procedure.
Angina is the medical term for chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart.
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It is a common symptom of heart disease and a warning sign that someone is at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
The scientists found that 16 percent of angina patients had a serious heart or circulatory incident, like a heart attack or need for another procedure, in the two years after having a stent fitted.
However, when patients consumed beetroot juice daily, this dropped to 7.5 percent.
Trial lead Doctor Krishnaraj Rathod said: “Experiments in the lab suggested that the inorganic nitrate, which is found naturally in beetroot juice, would have these effects, and it is very encouraging to see it create such a big improvement in the clinic for angina patients.
“Our patients liked that their treatment was a completely natural product that has no significant side effects.
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“We will now take this to the next stage of trials in the hope that doctors can soon prescribe beetroot juice to ensure stents last longer to provide even more effective relief of symptoms.”
Thousands of people with coronary heart disease in the UK have a stent implanted to widen one of the blood vessels in the hearts – a procedure known as a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).
Of these, around 10 percent experience restenosis, where the stented blood vessel narrows again and heart disease symptoms return, within five years.
The researchers hope by drinking beetroot juice patients could lower their risk of the stent failing potentially meaning they won’t need coronary bypass surgery.
Professor James Leiper, associate medical director, at the British Heart Foundation commented: “Stenting is one of the most crucial tools we have in the fight against coronary heart disease but work still needs to be done to ensure that every patient sees a long-term benefit from the procedure.
“Thousands of patients each year have to go through the stress of a medical procedure on their heart more than once before it is successful.
“This small study offers hope that this can be prevented. The trial must now be scaled-up to confirm the initial observation that beetroot juice can make a difference.”
It comes as previous research has also proved the benefits of beetroot juice for the heart.
One study, published in the American Journal of Physiology in 2017, concluded that drinking beetroot juice could lower the risk of heart disease due to its nitrate content.
It said: “These results provide proof-of-concept that dietary nitrate supplementation can modulate central sympathetic outflow and suggest that the established cardiovascular benefits [of dietary nitrate] are likely to involve a neural contribution.”
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