A dietary supplement containing isoflavone – a chemical found in soybeans, chickpeas, legumes and clovers – can improve artery function in stroke patient.
This is the findings of new research published online today in the European Heart Journal.
The study is believed to be the first randomised controlled trial to investigate the effects of isoflavone supplement on the way the brachial artery dilates in response to an increase in blood flow – a phenomenon known as flow-mediated dilation (FMD) – in patients with established cardiovascular disease.
Professor Hung-Fat Tse, William MW Mong Professor in Cardiology and Academic Chief of the Cardiology Division in the Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, The University of Hong Kong and his team found that 12 weeks of isoflavone supplement, at a dose of 80 mg a day, significantly improved brachial FMD and, therefore, vascular endothelial dysfunction in patients who had suffered an ischaemic stroke.
“These findings may have important implications for the use of isoflavone for secondary prevention in patients with cardiovascular disease, on top of conventional treatments,” the authors wrote in their EHJ paper.
The trial was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, involving 50 patients taking the isoflavone supplement, and 52 taking a placebo pill.
Some 80% of the patients had an impaired FMD of less than 3.7% at the start of the study, but after 12 weeks of isoflavone or placebo, there was an improvement of 1% in the isoflavone-treated patients compared with the controls.
Professor Tse explained: “Although the absolute increase in brachial diameter – 1% – is small, the relative increase actually amounted to about 50% because the mean average FMD in these stroke patients was about 2%. In fact, in patients with severe endothelial dysfunction, there might not be dilatation of brachial diameter at all.”
A balanced diet is still the top priority in promoting health, added Professor Tse noting that diets with higher soy content might be beneficial due to the isoflavone contents.