Vitamins are a bonus to everyone of us. The first ever study of the effect of B vitamins on heart disease shows a clear benefit. Angioplasty is a very widely used procedure for unblocking coronary arteries and so preventing heart attacks. It involves inserting a small balloon into the blood vessel and then inflating it to push the walls of the vessel apart. The problem is that in 20 per cent of cases the vessel re-blocks - a process called restenosis which leaves the patient where they were before the operation.
But now researchers in California have shown that a vitamin supplement can prevent restenosis. This is the first ever trial of vitamins in heart disease. They gave 95 patients who had had an angioplasty a supplement consisting of one milligram of folic acid, 300 micrograms of vitamin B12 and 5 milligrams of vitamin B6.
In the vitamin group, only 15 per cent experienced restenosis, compared to 25 in the placebo group. It may be that the vitamins lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to heart disease and artery blockage. The researchers suggest that there is nothing to stop doctors putting their heart patients on this vitamin research, for it seems to be an effective and inexpensive way of keeping the blood flowing through the coronary arteries.