FERRARA, ITALY. A group of Italian researchers has concluded that a high blood level of vitamin E is highly protective against heart attacks, strokes, and congestive heart failure in people aged 80 years and older. Their study included 54 healthy men and 48 healthy women with an average age of 84 years. The participants underwent a complete clinical examination and had blood samples drawn for analysis of antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene), cholesterol and fluorescent products of lipid peroxidation (FPLPs). FPLPs are a marker of oxidative stress. After four years of follow-up 16 of the participants had suffered a stroke, 12 a heart attack, and 4 had developed congestive heart failure. The researchers concluded that participants with the highest blood plasma levels of vitamin E (greater than 43.9 micromol/L) had a 10 times lower risk (after adjustment for other risk factors) of experiencing a cardiac event than did participants with low levels of vitamin E (less than 23 micromol/L). A high level of FPLPs in the blood plasma was associated with a seven-fold increase in risk when compared to a low level. Blood levels of vitamin C, cholesterol and beta-carotene were not related to the risk of having a cardiac event. This confirms previous research that elevated cholesterol levels are not a risk factor for heart disease in very old people.
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