FRIDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Many studies have shown
that a glass or two of red wine a day is heart-healthy, and much of
the benefit has been attributed to the anti-hypertensive effects of
antioxidants found in red wine called polyphenols.
But a new Dutch study suggests that these polyphenols, at least
in isolation, may
not lower blood pressure after all.
Study author Ilse Botden, a graduate student at University
Medical Center in Rotterdam, said the new findings "do not support"
a lowering of blood pressure by polyphenols as the source of red
wine's benefits to the cardiovascular system.
The findings are slated to be presented Friday at the American
Heart Association's High Blood Pressure Research meeting in
The new research involved 61 people averaging about 61 years of
age, all of whom had borderline high blood pressure. Participants
were given dairy beverages that contained either the red wine
polyphenols or a harmless placebo.
Botden's team found no difference in blood pressure levels
between the two groups after four weeks on the regimen.
"Red wine drinking may still be beneficial to prevent cardiovascular diseases. However, this apparently occurs in a blood pressure-independent manner," Botden said.
Dr. William O'Neill, a professor of cardiology and the executive
dean for clinical affairs at the University of Miami Miller School
of Medicine, agreed that the findings do
not mean that red wine, in moderation, isn't
"We know that moderate consumption of red wine helps decrease a person's risk for heart disease and heart attack," said O'Neill, who was not involved in the study.
Instead, this research seems to say that wine does not decrease
heart risk through the mechanism of lowering blood pressure.
Instead, red wine may have anti-inflammatory properties that lower
cardiovascular risk, he said.
Another theory is that something in red wine help decreases the
"stickiness" of blood and decreases the risk of a blood clot that
could cause a heart attack, O'Neill said.
"We always want to get out a magic potion, and put it in pill form, but this study shows us that it's more complicated," he said.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum is a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill
Hospital in New York City. She noted that the people in the study
had borderline high blood pressure, and the results may not apply
to people with higher blood pressure levels. The study also only
lasted a month, she said, and the benefits from polyphenols might
take longer to accrue.
"There are multiple components in red wine and taken together, these ingredients have been shown to decrease blood pressure and prevent clotting and heart attacks," Steinbaum said. Moderate consumption of red wine is also part of the Mediterranean diet or lifestyle, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. "This lifestyle is good for heart health," she said.
Research presented at medical meetings should be considered
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
There's more on high blood pressure at the
U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood
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