Heart attack: Cocoa supplement may slash the risk of dying from the cardiac event by 27%

Misdiagnosis of heart attacks in women

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Heart attacks occur when one or more coronary arteries become blocked, usually because fatty substances have built up inside the channels. But making timely lifestyle changes offers strong chances of averting such events. Antioxidants have become a key player in the war on cardiovascular disease because the molecules tackle many disease markers at once. According to a recent study, three of the most potent antioxidants may be found in the cocoa bean.

In the new study probing the health benefits of cocoa, researchers have suggested supplementation with the compound may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The cocoa plant comprises a wealth of nutritional compounds, but the three believed to be instrumental in protecting the heart are catechins, anthocyanin and flavanols.

The findings of the new research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that flavanols particularly may slash the risk of cardiac events.

The study included more than 21,000 people who took either a supplement containing 500 mg of cocoa flavanols, a multivitamin tablet, both pills, or nothing at all.

READ MORE: Heart attack: A sudden onslaught of sweating for no apparent reason is a warning sign

The sample included men aged over 59, and women over the age of 64, none of whom had been diagnosed with severe cardiovascular disease or cancer.

Researchers did not find a significant difference in the occurrence of cardiovascular events between the group taking the supplement, and the controls.

When looking at the risk of death from cardiac events, however, the difference was more pronounced.

Researchers found that participants taking the supplement had a 27 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related death compared to the control group.

The multivitamin supplement, however, appeared to have no significant impact on cardiovascular disease risk.

The study leader Howard Sesso, said in a press release: “When we look at the totality of evidence for both the primary and secondary cardiovascular endpoints in the cocoa supplement and multivitamin outcomes study, we see promising signals that cocoa flavanol supplements may reduce important cardiovascular events, including death from cardiovascular disease.

“These findings merit further investigation to better understand the effects of cocoa flavanols on cardiovascular health.”

Study co-author Joann Manson, added: “Previous studies have suggested health benefits of flavanols – compounds in several plant-based foods including cocoa, tea, grapes and berries.”

Indeed, previous research has shed light on some of the potential benefits of flavanols for cardiovascular health.

The antioxidant has shown promise in inhaling vasodilation and endothelial function, which can significantly help lower a blood pressure reading.

The compound, however, may also improve blood cholesterol profiles, which in turn may reduce the risk of clogged arteries.

Heart attack symptoms

As the leading cause of death globally, cardiovascular disease claims an estimated 17 million lives each year.

But scientists believe that raising awareness of the early warning signs of heart attack could help save thousands of lives.

The NHS recently launched a campaign urging people to call 999 if they experience symptoms such as chest tightness, uneasiness and sweating.

Other precursors may include cold sweat, nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain.

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