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Open Access Review

Unique vascular protective properties of natural products: supplements or future main-line drugs with significant anti-atherosclerotic potential?

Mark Slevin12, Nessar Ahmed2, Qiuyu Wang2, Garry McDowell3 and Lina Badimon1*

Author Affiliations

1 Centro de Investigación Cardiovascular CSIC-ICCC Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Pavelló del Convent Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167 08025, Barcelona, Spain

2 School of Healthcare Science, John Dalton Building, Manchester Metropolitan University, Chester Street, Manchester, M1 5GD, UK

3 Faculty of Health, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, L39 4QP, UK

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Vascular Cell 2012, 4:9  doi:10.1186/2045-824X-4-9

Published: 30 April 2012

Abstract

Natural health products (NHP) which include minerals, vitamins and herbal remedies are not generally considered by medical practitioners as conventional medicines and as such are not frequently prescribed by health centre’s as either main-line or supplemental treatments. In the field of cardiovascular medicine, studies have shown that typically, less than half of patients suffering from coronary syndromes chose to take any form of NHP supplement and these products are rarely recommended by their medical practitioner. Vascular/endothelial cell damage is a key instigator of coronary arterial plaque development which often culminates in thrombosis and myocardial infarction (MI). Current treatment for patients known to be at risk of primary or secondary (MI) includes lipid lowering statins, anti-clotting agents (e.g. tissue plasminogen activator; tPA) and drugs for stabilization of blood pressure such as beta-blockers. However, evidence has been building which suggests that components of at least several NHP (e.g. aged garlic extract (AGExt), resveratrol and green tea extracts (GTE)) may have significant vascular protective effects through reduction of oxidative stress, lowering of blood pressure, reduction in platelet aggregation, vasodilation and inhibition of abnormal angiogenesis. Therefore, in this review we will discuss in detail the potential of these substances (chosen on the basis of their potency and complimentarity) as anti-atherosclerotic agents and the justification for their consideration as main-line additional supplements or prescriptions.

Keywords:
Atherosclerotic plaque; Cardiovascular disease; Natural health products; Vascular protection