Friday, 14 July 2023

Chinese medicinal herb astragalus found to reduce inflammation and improve immunity in heart attack patients

 A new study has found that astragalus, an herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), can help reduce inflammation in patients who have recently suffered a heart attack. Astragalus was also found to help boost immunity, unlike current cardiovascular drugs that suppress the immune system.

The study was conducted by British and Indonesian researchers and was published in the journal GeroScience.

Benefits of astragalus for heart patients

To investigate the effects of cycloastragenol, a compound isolated from astragalus root, on inflammation and immune aging, the researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized controlled pilot trial involving 90 participants over the age of 65. All the participants had coronary heart disease and had suffered from a heart attack in the six months prior to the start of the study.

The researchers divided the participants into two groups: One group was given 16 milligrams of TA-65, an encapsulated form of cycloastragenol, daily while the other received a placebo. The participants were assessed regularly at the clinic to check for any side effects. They also had blood measurements taken at baseline, six months after the start of the study and after 12 months to measure outcomes.

The researchers reported that after a year, the participants who received TA-65 experienced fewer complications or issues, such as chest and joint pains, than the participants who received a placebo. The former also had 62 percent lower levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein than the latter. C-reactive protein is released by the liver into the bloodstream in the presence of inflammation.

On top of reducing inflammation, the researchers found that TA-65 also increased the patients’ lymphocyte counts, which improved their immunity. Lymphocytes are immune cells made in the bone and marrow that help the body fight infection and disease.  

According to Dr. Ioakim Spyridopoulos, a professor of cardiology and cardiovascular gerontology at Newcastle University and one of the study authors, some potent anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to improve outcomes after heart attacks. But because they work by suppressing the immune system, they increase a patient's risk of severe infections.

In contrast to these drugs, Spyridopoulos noted that cycloastragenol from astragalus reduces inflammation while improving immunity by increasing a patient’s immune cells.

"If we can show that TA-65 improves the clinical outcomes of patients who have suffered a heart attack, on top of modern treatment options, it will become an important addition to patients’ medical care," explained Spyridopoulos.

Lifestyle changes for a healthy heart

While researchers continue to investigate the potential benefits of astragalus for heart health, you can make these lifestyle changes to maintain a healthy heart:

Follow a balanced diet

Following a nutritious and well-balanced diet can help reduce your risk of heart disease.

Limit your intake of salt, sugar, processed foods, saturated fats and trans fats. This means avoiding junk food and fast food.

Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Try the Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of nutritious foods that promote heart health.

Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity is important if you want to improve your heart health. Try to include at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week.

Varying your gym routine can help you stay more engaged in your workouts, so try a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercises in your routine.

Moderate-intensity exercises like cycling, hiking and swimming are good for your heart health.

If you want to try more vigorous-intensity exercises that promote cardiovascular health, try running, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or sports that require extensive running, such as basketball, soccer and tennis.

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