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Vitamin E: The key to reducing heart attack damage may already be in your medicine cabinet

An over-the-counter vitamin E tablet could hold the key to keeping vital heart muscle alive after a heart attack.

While doctors are able to reopen arteries after a heart attack, the attack causes damage which puts patients at increased risk of future heart failure.

But researchers at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute may have found a solution, and it could already be in your medicine cabinet.

Professor Karlheinz Peter, heart researcher at the Baker Institute, said taking vitamin E immediately after a heart attack may prevent a harmful immune response which damages the heart.

“When we open the artery the immune system really attacks the pre-damaged cells and kills them, so it’s actually quite a paradoxical situation,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“We help perfuse the heart again, but then we induce this overshooting inflammation, and that’s where the vitamin E is really the essential part.”

Currently there is no drug available which reduces the damage caused by this inflammatory response.

The promising finding was found through testing on mice, and human trials are set to be carried out soon.

Researchers have not found any benefit to taking vitamin E as a preventative measure to ward off heart attacks.

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