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STUDY: Note for B's and AB's to keep nitric oxide levels elevated
JOURNAL: Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine
AUTHORS: Jason Allen, Ph.D.,
ABSTRACT: Duke University Medical Center researchers have shown an association between changes in nitrate, a biochemical marker of nitric oxide production, and physiological changes in arteries' reaction to stress. They hope their discovery could eventually lead to a non-invasive method of determining which patients are at risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
COMMENTARY: Such a simple diagnostic is important, they said, because up to half of patients who develop heart disease do not have the typical risk factors. Furthermore, using this new approach, the researchers demonstrated that exercise improved the marker in patients at risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
In their pilot study, the researchers linked the systemic production of nitric oxide, a chemical known to play a key role in controlling the ability of arteries to constrict or relax, with changes in the endothelial lining of arteries after being stressed.
In addition to its ability to dilate arteries, nitric oxide has other properties that protect against cardiovascular disease, such as inhibiting blood platelet clumping, preventing smooth muscle proliferation within the artery and inhibiting the immune response.
On the other hand, other risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, mental stress and smoking can reduce nitric oxide's protective properties, said the researchers. It is believed that these patients produce more oxygen free radicals, impairing the ability of the body to respond appropriately to nitric oxide. These oxygen free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that are the potentially destructive byproducts of the disease process.
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