Heart attack patients may benefit from drinking tea

BOSTON Drinking tea on a regular basis may help protect patients with existing cardiovascular disease, according to a study in the May 7 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, which finds that tea consumption is associated with an increased rate of survival following a heart attack.

The health benefits of tea have been reported in numerous studies in recent years, but among healthy individuals the evidence [of tea 's benefits] is actually mixed, notes the studys lead author Kenneth J. Mukamal, MD, MPH, of the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The greatest benefits of tea consumption have been found among patients who already have cardiovascular disease.

Mukamal and his co-authors found that among individuals who had suffered heart attacks, those who reported being heavy tea drinkers had a 44 percent lower death rate than non-tea drinkers in the three-and-a-half years following their heart attacks, while moderate tea drinkers had a 28 percent lower rate of dying when compared with non-tea drinkers.

The key to this protection appears to lie with a group of antioxidants known as flavonoids, which are plentiful in both black and green tea. Flavonoids, which are also found in certain fruits and vegetables, including apples, onions and broccoli, could be working to help the heart in one of several ways, according to Mukamal.

It's pretty clear that flavonoids can prevent LDL [low density lipoprotein] cholesterol from becoming oxidized, he says, explaining that oxidized LDL can lead to the development of atherosclerosis. In addition, a recent study found that drinking black tea improved endothelial function the ability of the blood vessels to relax in cardiac patients. Finally, he adds, flavonoids may have an anti-clotting effect.

The observational study was made up of 1,900 individuals, both men and women mainly in their 60s, who were questioned by tr

Contact: Bonnie Prescott
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

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