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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Isoflavone Supplementation for Stroke

A new study in Hong Kong, recently published online at the European Heart Journal, investigated the effects of isoflavone supplements on the main artery in the arm, the brachial artery.

The study involved 102 patients. Fifty-two of the patients were placed on placebos, and fifty patients were placed on 80 milligrams of isoflavone supplement per day. The study lasted for twelve weeks and is the first of its kind. There have been no other studies examining the effects of isoflavone and the brachial artery.

What is isoflavone? Isoflavone includes a class of organic compounds related to flavonoids. Isoflavone is found primarily in the mean family and is naturally-occurring in foods such as legumes, soy, clovers and chickpeas. Some foods with isoflavones are thought to protect against certain types of cancers.

Nearly 80 percent of the patients in the Hong Kong study had an impaired blood flow when they began the study. The researchers used ultrasound to measure the blood flow of the brachial arteries in all patients one minute after removing a tourniquet from their arms. What they found was that the patients who took the isoflavone supplements had an increased blood flow in the brachial artery. This is great news for ischaemic stroke studies, since ischemic stroke is caused by obstructions in the artery, such as blood clots.

The study lasted for twelve weeks and showed a significant improvement for the patients taking isoflavone supplements, as opposed to those taking placebos.

Though this new study has some researchers excited about the possibilities of using isoflavone supplements in addition to conventional medicine to help stroke patients, it is too early to make recommendations. The side effects of long term isoflavone supplemental use, as well as the long-term benefits, are yet unknown.

However, doctors can recommend that their patients eat a diet high in isoflavones in hopes that it will be helpful for their cardiovascular health. The foods containing isoflavones are also known for their vitamins, fiber and polyunsaturated fats, so there is no risk in recommending them.

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