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Acetaminophen may protect against heart damage according to Rutgers research

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. New research from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, links acetaminophen, the medicine in pain relievers such as Tylenol, to improved heart muscle recovery following ischemic attacks periods of reduced blood flow typical of coronary artery disease.

Laboratory findings reported by Professor Gary F. Merrill, Rutgers' department of cell biology and neuroscience, indicate a significant improvement in acetaminophen-treated hearts compared with non-treated hearts following periods of induced ischemia.

"Our goal over the past few years has been to examine the potential protective effect of acetaminophen on the function of the heart muscle and coronary circulation," said Merrill.

"We now have results from several published studies that suggest acetaminophen exerts an antioxidant effect on heart muscle cells, blocking the damage caused by chemicals known as oxidants." Merrill attributed the rapid post-ischemia recovery of heart muscle function and circulation observed to the antioxidant properties of acetaminophen.

"We are extremely encouraged by these preliminary findings and look forward to future investigations to confirm them in humans," said Merrill. "In the interim, we do not recommend that acetaminophen users deviate from recommended dosages," he added.

Ischemic heart disease is a widely recognized precursor to heart attack. Episodes of ischemia, which are generally accompanied by the painful condition called angina pectoris, are the result of reduced blood flow through the coronary arteries that supply vital oxygen to the heart muscle. As coronary arteries become progressively narrowed due to fatty deposits on the inside of their walls, their ability to sustain adequate blood flow diminishes.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the country's number one killer of both men and women. In 1999 alone, it claimed nearly 700,000 lives.


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Contact: Joseph Blumberg
blumberg@ur.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 x652
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
15-Jul-2002


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