HEART DISEASE? JUST SAY
By Sean Henahan, Access Excellence
NEW ORLEANS (NOVEMBER 11, 1996)
A consensus that boosting nitric oxide production might benefit
patients with cardiovascular disease has some new support,
following the presentation of clinical data presented at the
American Heart Association's 69th annual Scientific Sessions.
In a clinical study, eight people, four with coronary artery
disease and four without, underwent tests to stimulate their
sympathetic nervous system before and while receiving arginine
to determine if the abnormal blood vessel response is caused in
part by a defect in the signaling pathways of nitric oxide. The
amino acid arginine, is utilized by the body to make nitric
oxide for many tasks, including regulating blood pressure and
transmitting messages along signal pathways between cells. The
arginine treatment restored the blood vessels' normal response
in the four people with coronary artery disease.
Normally, nitric oxide produced by cells lining the inside of
blood vessels causes coronary arteries to widen to increase
blood flow to the heart and other muscles during times of
stress, but the arteries constrict in people with coronary
artery disease, limiting blood flow and possibly contributing to
ischemia and heart attack.
"These findings suggest that inappropriate coronary responses to
sympathetic stimulation in people with coronary artery disease
may be related to changes in the arginine-nitric oxide pathway
and may be improved by increasing production of nitric oxide,"
says Joel Gellman, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University.
The researchers subjected study participants to a rudimentary
stress test , putting their hands in ice water, which activated
the sympathetic nervous system. This system increases heart and
breathing rates and blood flow to the muscles, stimulating the
stress or "fight or flight" response.
Related information on the
American Heart Association