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  • Preventive Cardiologist Speaks Out About Red Wine/ Resveratrol Pills In Wake Of Scientific Hiccup

    January 30, 2012: by admin

    In recent days allegations of scientific fraud by a leading researcher who has conducted experiments using resveratrol, a red wine molecule, have been aired. Negative news report have cast a pall over the idea of drinking red wine or red wine pills as an elixir for what ails the heart. Was the science behind red wine pills all made up, as one popular radio commentator recently said? Preventive cardiologist Nate E. Lebowitz, M.D., FACC, with the Advanced Cardiology Institute in Ft. Lee, New Jersey, answers questions on this topic:

    1. In recent days, Rush Limbaugh has suggested maybe the whole idea of drinking wine for heart health, and certainly red wine resveratrol pills, should be abandoned, that this idea is based upon data that has been found to be faulty. First, what about wine, you at least respond positively if patients with heart disease inquire about wine drinking?
    2. Answer: Not only do I respond positively when patients inquire about drinking red wine, but I will occasionally encourage them to take resveratrol based up the individual patient’s profile and medical condition. The health benefits of red wine, especially in cardiovascular disease, have been well known for centuries if not thousands of years. Research in this field has clearly been accelerating over the last several years and recent events do not deter me in the least. After an extensive review of the literature, including recent events at the University of Connecticut, I am undeterred in my conclusion, which is entirely based upon scientific evidence, that resveratrol and red wine have the potential to be extraordinarily beneficial in the fight against cardiovascular disease.

    3. What about red wine resveratrol pills, are they still a good idea? What is your experience with them?
    4. Answer: I have been prescribing a specific resveratrol pill for the last few years for a very large number of my patients. This has entirely been prompted by over 10 years of science coming out of Harvard University and then subsequently studies sponsored by the National Institute of Health. It is rare for me to specify that a patient take one particular brand of a supplement. However, in the case of resveratrol, I have been rather strict that patients specifically take Longevinex® as their resveratrol supplement. I believe that, and I tell patients this, that Longevinex® seems to me to be the one supplement that best replicates the decade of science that has come out of Harvard on resveratrol with regard to longevity and cardiovascular protection. In addition, there has been National Institute of Health trials on resveratrol in which Longevinex® was the source of resveratrol chosen for the study. Clinically, I have seen extraordinary benefit in a number of patients. One specific anecdote which occurred recently is in a 90-year-old patient who has been on resveratrol, specifically Longevinex®, suffered a heart attack, but at cardiac catheterization and later on at subsequent nuclear perfusion stress testing, there was so little damage that it was almost nonexistent. This exactly replicates animal data with resveratrol.

    5. In recent weeks a report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests a baby aspirin may be widely effective in reducing non-mortal heart attacks but not sudden death heart attacks. What do you now tell your heart patients about aspirin?
    6. Answer: I take care of a lot of patients who are considered “primary prevention”, meaning that they are at risk of heart disease but have not had any clinical cardiac events. In addition, I take care of a lot of “secondary prevention” or patients who have known cardiovascular disease and are trying to prevent recurrence, which is always considered a high risk. A number of studies have shown that up to 70% of people taking aspirin are doing so for no good clinical benefit and are therefore putting themselves at risk. I counsel patients carefully on the risks and benefits of aspirin in their individual case, and I can tell you that I prescribe far less aspirin than the average physician. For the patients in whom clinical testing has found a predisposition towards clotting or “sticky” platelets, then of course aspirin can be life saving. However, the vast majority of patients who are taking aspirin, especially those in the primary prevention arena, are doing so unnecessarily.

    7. It has been said that the best type of prevention for the heart would be something called “cardio prevention” where the defensive systems in the heart are activated prior to a heart attack. Exactly what is this?
    8. Answer: Everything that we are trying to do, whether in the primary prevention or secondary prevention arena, is to restore a system of health to arteries that are otherwise unhealthy. This latter is sometimes called “endothelial dysfunction” in which arteries constrict in response to signals telling them to relax and are therefore prone to damaging the lining of the arteries leading to cholesterol accumulation. A number of substances have been found to restore endothelial function, ranging from healthy diets to omega 3 fish oil. One of the most exciting areas of cardio prevention, however, is the idea of “ischemic preconditioning.” The ability to recruit collateral blood vessels and improve endothelial function is often mediated by a molecule called adenosine. Adenosine is often reduced or compromised in people with endothelial dysfunction and arterial disease. Resveratrol has been found to significantly improve ischemic preconditioning, possibly though improved adenosine release. In the clinical scenario that I mentioned earlier of the 90-year-old heart attack patient, I believe that this is likely the mechanism through which he suffered so little if any damage.

    9. How have your patients taken to the idea of a red wine pill?
    10. Answer: They love it. They love the idea that their cardiologist is always looking at cutting edge and especially non-pharmaceutical science. The fact that this is so new and scientific with the potential to help them in so many ways is exciting to them. They also have all heard about the fact that people in France and Italy live to old ages and often have lower rates of heart disease, possibly attributable to their red wine consumption. They do not necessarily want to have to drink 3 to 5 glasses a day of red wine, and therefore they are enthusiastic about the idea about taking it in pill form.

    11. Will any resveratrol pill do or are there doses that are recommended or special brands?
    12. Answer: As I mentioned above, this is one supplement in which I am very strict that patients take one specific resveratrol brand, called Longevinex. This is because after looking at all of the resveratrols on the market, many of which have come from off shore and are fraudulent, it is critically important to find a supplement that is both safe and has the right mix of ingredients. Taking resveratrol correctly is very tricky. Too little does not work and too much can be toxic. The therapeutic window is somewhat narrow. In addition, resveratrol alone may not do very much. Rather, it has to be combined with several of the “small molecules” found in red wine. The one supplement that I think makes extraordinary effort to replicate all of the above and the over 10 years of science that has come out of Harvard University on resveratrol, is indeed Longevinex®.

    Nate E. Lebowitz MD, FACC

    Advanced Cardiology Institute
    Diplomates in Cardiovascular Disease
    American Board of Internal Medicine
    9W Office Center, 2200 Fletcher Avenue
    Ft. Lee, NJ 07024
    (210) 461-6200

    * Dr. Lebowitz received no compensation for the above statements and is not commercially affiliated with Longevinex®.

    Note: The Food & Drug Administration deems dietary supplements like Longevinex® to narrowly support heart health and only FDA-approved drugs can be said to prevent, treat or cure diseases, such as heart disease. This interviews was released in the public interest given aspirin has now been shown to be largely ineffective in preventing mortal heart attacks and at least in the animal laboratory resveratrol has been demonstrated to turn mortal heart attacks into non-mortal events. It will take years to prove whether resveratrol prevents sudden-death heart attacks in humans. If that is proven at some future date in time, resveratrol pills would likely be declared a drug by the FDA. During that time millions of adults will meet their early demise due to a sudden unexpected heart seizure. Given that there is no current impetus to put resveratrol to the test in cardiology, inquiring consumers, using the best available science, must embark upon their own self-guided efforts to determine whether resveratrol would be beneficial for their heart health. – Bill Sardi, Jan 29, 2012

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