A recent study has found that men (and not just any men, but high-stress firemen) at high risk for heart attacks had better blood vessel function after one year of taking a combination of aged garlic extract and coenzyme Q10 (a.k.a. CoQ-10), two supplements that have been found separately to have cardiovascular benefits.
As the most studious among you know, blood vessels are specially designed to respond to the tremendous and ever-changing blood flow needs in different parts of the body. Healthy blood vessels are elastic, flexible, and strong, but many people unknowingly have low-level chronic inflammation in their blood vessel walls, causing the walls to become thicker and less flexible, and increasing heart attack risk. Supplements with anti-inflammatory properties, like aged garlic and CoQ10, are thought to help.
Stress Increases Risk of Vessel Disease
Stress is well known to play a role in heart disease. The study, published in Nutrition, included 65 male urban firefighters. Firefighting is stressful work and firefighters have a much higher risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death than the overall population. Participants were assigned to receive either 1,200 mg of aged garlic extract plus 120 mg of CoQ10 per day or placebo for one year. Tests that reflect the degree of thickening and loss of elasticity in blood vessels, which may be signs of atherosclerosis, were done at the beginning of the study and every three months.
Supplements Support Blood Vessels
Based on these test results, the blood vessels of the firefighters who took garlic and CoQ10 had more elasticity and better responsiveness at the end of the study than at the beginning. These improvements were significant when compared to the slight worsening of blood vessel function seen in the firefighters in the placebo group.
In addition, blood levels of CRP (C-reactive protein) dropped in the garlic plus CoQ10 group but increased in the placebo group. CRP is a marker of inflammation in the cardiovascular system and high levels are associated with increased cardiac risk.
“This is the first study to demonstrate a benefit with a combination of aged garlic extract and CoQ10 on atherosclerotic progression in intermediate-risk firefighters with high occupational stress,” the study’s authors said. “The present study demonstrates that, after one year of aged garlic extract plus CoQ10, the vascular elasticity and endothelial function in firefighters improved significantly.”
Now for those of you who can’t immediately recall what endolethial function is, it refers to the function of the inner lining of the blood vessels, which are susceptible to inflammation from stress. So, the call is to give this dynamic duo a whirl, especially if your life lands you at an especially high stress level.