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Taking garlic supplements can cut rate of heart attack deaths


Liverpool researchers have found that a garlic supplement could help beat Britain’s biggest killer.

New scientific evidence shows that aged garlic extract (AGE) can significantly reduce the chances of heart attacks in patients with existing coronary problems. British Heart Foundation* statistics shows that cardiovascular disease kills one in three people in the UK, totalling 233,000 deaths in 2003. Researchers from Liverpool John Moores University have discovered that commercially-produced AGE, may help cut deaths by reducing the chances of blood clots forming which can result in heart attacks.

These clots can be fatal as blood vessels surrounding the heart can become blocked, causing parts of the heart to die because of lack of blood. Dr Khalid Rahman and Dr Gordon Lowe of the Nutraceutical Research Group, School of Biomolecular Sciences at LJMU are helping to lead the way in understanding more about this herbal wonder drug and its abilities to protect the heart.

Dr Lowe said: "By far the most widely studied and reported health promoting- effect of garlic is heart protection. "Garlic has been shown to have antithrombotic effects in that it stops clotting and may have a role in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease."

AGE works by targeting platelets in the blood that are responsible for the clotting defence that stops us bleeding to death. In healthy people, these platelets are free to move around the body. In older patients who typically experience cardiovascular disease, the platelets are less mobile and can ’stick together’ resulting in a blood clot.

The garlic extract works by keeping the platelets mobile and reducing the chances of such a clot forming. Dr Lowe continued: "Aged garlic extract is a dietary supplement which is available from health food stores. Clinical trials have been conducted here at the university and in other institutions, which found that by taking AGE everyday there was a significant reduction in the amount of platelet clotting. "Platelets help the blood to clot when there is a cut or a bleed. But with heart disease patients, the platelets are fooled into thinking there has been an injury and they form a layer as if to protect the non-existent wound. "This can lead to a large clot forming which stops blood from pumping properly around the body. "We have found that AGE helps the platelets to become less "sticky" hence decreasing the chances of a clot formation."

PHD student Gillian Allison is now working with Dr Rahman and Dr Lowe to understand exactly why garlic has such a positive effect on blood platelets in the laboratory.
It is hoped that planned clinical trials will prove that AGE should be offered to sufferers of coronary heart disease as a natural aid to a healthier heart.

Ms Allison said: "We are looking at using AGE as a supplement and therefore this should not be seen as a treatment alternative, but instead it can be used effectively as a preventative measure."

Cardiovascular disease is Britain’s biggest killer, affecting more patients than cancer. There is a wide range of risk factors associated with heart disease, including smoking, alcohol, obesity, lack of exercise and unhealthy diets. Most cases of heart disease are preventable.

Garlic, or Allium sativum, can be found in many favourite meals. But it has also gained itself a reputation in the medical profession for delaying the ageing process, fighting infection, preventing cancer and tumours. It is also healthy natural antioxidant that can prevent colds and flu.

Dr Rahman continued: "Garlic has been used for many centuries, as both a flavouring and a folk medicine. At present, the potential therapeutic and health-promoting effects of garlic are attracting considerable interest."

The works of the Nutraceutical Research Group at LJMU has also involved garlic’s benefit on smoker’s and fighting ageing.

As smokers have a higher risk of developing many diseases, the team found that taking just 5ml per day of Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract for 14 days could benefit those who smoke, as garlic reduces free radicals, which are dangerous factors in our body that cause many diseases and ageing.

Dr Rahman concluded: "The use of herbal medicines in the Western world is now a significant factor in modern health care and confirmation of their efficacy will stimulate rapid and continued growth in the herbal market."

(* British Heart Foundation 2005 Coronary heart disease statistics)

Shonagh Wilkie | alfa

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