Red wine therapy for heart disease surgery

Antioxidant compounds in red wine could soon help patients recovering from heart disease surgery.

Coronary heart disease is the UK's biggest killer and occurs when the heart's blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.

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Over time, the walls of the arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits which can lead to angina, heart attacks and heart failure.

It is incurable and is the single most common cause of death before 65 accounting for a sixth of all deaths in men and a tenth in women each year in the UK.

It also kills 38 per cent of men and 37 per cent of women before the age of 75.

Sufferers are told to stop smoking, exercise, have a healthier diet or can be prescribed medicines to control blood cholesterol and sugar levels.

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Patients may be offered surgery including angioplasty when a small balloon is inserted to push the fatty tissue in the narrowed artery outwards.

This allows the blood to flow more easily and a metal stent - a wire mesh tube is usually placed in the artery to hold it open.

Drug-eluting stents can also be used and these release drugs to stop the artery narrowing again.

But these release toxic chemotherapy agents and can cause the blood vessel to narrow again.

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So Louisiana State University scientist turn to red wine for inspiration.

Professor Tammy Dugas in the Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences developed a new stent that releases red wine antioxidants slowly over time that promotes healing and prevents blood clotting and inflammation.

The two antioxidant compounds are resveratrol and quercetin.

Prof Dugas said: "By delivering red wine antioxidants during conventional angioplasty, it may be possible to prevent excess tissue from building up and the blood vessel from narrowing again as it heals"

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As well as the new stent, his team are developing a balloon coated with the same compounds to treat blood flow blockages throughout the body called peripheral artery disease.

This disease which can limit the blood flow to kidneys, the stomach, arms or legs.

Drug-coated balloons are a relatively new product, and are being developed to help interventional cardiologists treat arteries that are difficult to target with traditional angioplasty and stent treatments.

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