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Worried about Angina? Try beetroot juice

A daily shot could be just what the doctor ordered.


(Alamy/PA)

A daily shot of beetroot juice may halve the chance of angina patients suffering a heart attack or needing repeat treatment, early-stage research suggests.


A study presented at the British Cardiovascular Society conference in Manchester found that the juice helped people with angina, a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscles.


All those in the study had had a stent put in previously – a wire mesh tube inserted into arteries to keep them open.


Drinking just 70ml of beetroot juice every day for six months after having a stent fitted reduced the chance of angina patients having a heart attack or needing a repeat procedure, the findings showed.


While more research is needed, experts said inorganic nitrate, which is found naturally in beetroot juice, is likely to be having a beneficial effect.


The study on 300 people was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research and the British Heart Foundation (BHF).


Researchers based at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and Queen Mary University in London found that 16% of angina patients had a serious heart or circulatory incident, like a heart attack or need for another procedure, in the two years after having a stent fitted.


However, when patients drank beetroot juice daily, this figure dropped to 7.5%.


In addition, when the blood vessel width of patients was measured six months after stenting, the vessels of those who drank beetroot juice showed around half as much narrowing in that time as those who had a placebo treatment.


(Alamy/PA)

Dr Krishnaraj Rathod, clinical senior lecturer at the William Harvey Research Institute, QMUL, who led the trial, said: “Experiments in the lab suggested that the inorganic nitrate, which is found naturally in beetroot juice, would have these effects, and it is very encouraging to see it create such a big improvement in the clinic for angina patients.


“Our patients liked that their treatment was a completely natural product that has no significant side-effects.


“We will now take this to the next stage of trials in the hope that doctors can soon prescribe beetroot juice to ensure stents last longer to provide even more effective relief of symptoms.”


Professor James Leiper, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Stenting is one of the most crucial tools we have in the fight against coronary heart disease but work still needs to be done to ensure that every patient sees a long-term benefit from the procedure.


“Thousands of patients each year have to go through the stress of a medical procedure on their heart more than once before it is successful.


“This small study offers hope that this can be prevented. The trial must now be scaled-up to confirm the initial observation that beetroot juice can make a difference.”


The researchers said they could show that beetroot juice helps patients thanks to the high level of inorganic nitrate.


Patients in the trial that had beetroot juice with inorganic nitrate removed did not get the same beneficial effects.

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