FERRARA, ITALY. Italian researchers report that vitamin E protects very old people against heart attacks, strokes (ischemic), and congestive heart failure. Their study involved 54 men and 48 women with an average age of 84 years. The participants were all healthy and independent in all activities of daily living when the study began in 1992. By 1997 members of the group had suffered 16 strokes (6 fatal), 12 heart attacks (9 fatal), and 4 congestive heart failures. Analyses of blood samples provided at the beginning of the study showed that study participants with a high plasma level of vitamin E (greater than 43.9 micromol/L) had a 10 times lower risk of a cardiovascular event than did participants with a low level (less than 23 micromol/L) after adjusting for other risk factors. The researchers also found that participants with a high level of fluorescent products of peroxidation in their blood had a seven times greater risk of a cardiovascular event than did those with lower levels. Blood levels of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and cholesterol did not affect the risk of suffering a cardiovascular event. The researchers suggest that the benefits of vitamin E are due to its ability to reduce platelet adhesion and aggregation, inhibit vitamin-K-dependent clotting factors, and reduce the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Mezzetti, Andrea, et al. Vitamin E and lipid peroxide plasma levels predict the risk of cardiovascular events in a group of healthy very old people. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Vol. 49, May 2001, pp. 533-37