9
Feb
2016

Dietary cocoa flavanols improve blood vessel function in patients with kidney dysfunction

Terms: Uncategorized

Dietary cocoa flavanols improve blood vessel function in
patients with kidney dysfunction

Consuming a beverage
containing cocoa flavanols improves blood vessel function in patients with
kidney failure, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical
Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
(CJASN). The findings suggest
that the plant-derived compounds may benefit the cardiovascular health of
patients with poor kidney function.

Individuals with failing
kidneys are at increased risk of developing heart problems, and they’re more
likely to die from cardiovascular causes than from any other cause. Lifestyle
and dietary modifications to maintain vascular health or reduce disease risk
might help protect patients’ heart health, but there are currently limited
diet-based therapeutic approaches to counteract cardiovascular disease in
patients with kidney failure.

Tienush Rassaf, MD
(University Hospital Essen, Germany) and his colleagues tested the potential of
cocoa flavanols, a subgroup of plant-derived polyphenols that are present in
cocoa and have been shown to have beneficial effects on blood vessel function
in individuals with normal kidney function.

The team randomized 57
dialysis patients to ingest either a test beverage rich in cocoa flavanols (900
mg per day) or a control beverage that was free of cocoa flavanols but matched
the nutrient content of the test beverage in all other aspects. After 30 days,
the investigators found that cocoa flavanol ingestion was well-tolerated by
patients and it improved blood vessel function and reduced diastolic blood
pressure. No effects were observed in the group that consumed the control
beverage.

“Impressively, the
degree of reversion of vessel dysfunction was comparable to the effects
observed through administering statins or making dietary and lifestyle
changes,” said Dr. Rassaf. “Whether this approach also leads to a
reduction in mortality is not clear and has to be investigated.”

In an accompanying
editorial, Carmine Zoccali, MD and Francesca Mallamaci, MD (CNR-IFC, in Italy)
noted that “the burden of cardiovascular disease in dialysis patients is
so devastating that a promising intervention like cocoa flavanols deserves full
attention by the nephrology community.” They added that if the findings
are confirmed in additional studies, they may represent a turning point in
patient care.

 

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