High Blood PressureVitamins

Vitamins C and E in hypertension

The aim of this study by researchers at the University of Chile in Santiago was to see if the antioxidant effects of vitamins C and E are associated with a decrease in blood pressure in patients with hypertension.

First, the details.

  • 110 otherwise healthy adult men with grade 1 hypertension (mild, 140-159/90-99 mm/Hg) were studied.
  • They were randomly assigned to vitamin C (1 g/day) plus vitamin E (400 international units/day)] or placebo for 8 weeks.
  • Measurements included 24-hour blood pressure and blood analysis for markers of oxidative-stress.

And, the results.

  • Those taking vitamins C+E had significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and mean arterial blood pressure (an approximation of the pressure needed by organs to get enough blood flow)
  • There was also higher red blood cell antioxidant capacity compared to placebo-treated patients and the levels reported before treatment with C+E.
  • As blood pressure increased, plasma 8-isoprostane levels (a marker for oxidative stress) went up.
  • As blood pressure decreased FRAP levels (a measure of total antioxidative capacity) went up.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded that oxidative stress is involved in the development of hypertension. And improving the antioxidant status using vitamins C and E is associated with lower blood pressure in those with hypertension. The results, they say, support using these antioxidants to complement treatment for hypertension.

An earlier study in a similar population given the same dose of vitamins C and E reported beneficial effects with respect to vasodilation and arterial stiffness in untreated hypertensive patients.

There are two issues. First, it’s not possible to know from the abstract if the “significant” changes in blood pressure reported were just statistically significant of clinically significant in the management of this disease.

Second, it would now be useful to know how much of a difference vitamins C and E make in people already being treated with antihypertensive medicine?

7/3/08 21:05 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.