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Vitamin C May Lower Blood Pressure In Peripheral Arterial Disease Patients

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is an affliction that reduces blood flow in the legs and raises the risk of dying from a cardiovascular event. During exercise, blood pressure in PAD patients tends to increase to a potentially dangerous level. A recent study suggests that vitamin C may help reduce that increase.

The researchers began the study by looking at the effect of low-intensity exercise on 13 PAD patients compared to individuals without PAD. They then selected nine participants from that group and examined what happened when they were given vitamin C intravenously prior to exercise.

Following that, the researchers took another group of five PAD patients and five individuals without PAD and measured involuntary exercise by administering electrical stimulation to their legs. This was done in order to eliminate the brain's effect on blood pressure and show that the blood pressure increase comes from the muscle itself.

They found that PAD patients had larger increases in blood pressure during exercise compared to non-PAD participants. Infusing vitamin C into the blood of the PAD participants lowered that increase, although not down to the point of blood pressure in healthy people.

The study was conducted by researchers at Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute. It was published online ahead of print on September 24, 2012, in The Journal of Physiology.

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that has been linked to numerous other health benefits, including immune system function, brain health, eye health and improved mood. It can be found in high levels in citrus fruits and dark leafy greens such as cantaloupe, oranges, kiwis, papaya, broccoli and kale.

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