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Health News Archive 624 - Heart Health
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Pine Bark Extract Reduces Heart Failure

May 16, 2007 – GENEVA, Switzerland – A study to be published in an upcoming edition of the journal of Cardiovascular Toxicology reveals Pycnogenol®, natural pine bark extract from the French maritime pine tree, helps prevent damage that high blood pressure causes to the heart. The study demonstrates pine tree bark extract counteracts the “wearing out” of the heart, which may aid the five million Americans living with heart failure. Previous studies have shown pine bark supplementation to be associated with improved cardiovascular health, such as cholesterol reduction, blood pressure control and prevention of thrombosis.

In hypertension, the over-worked heart gradually wears out, resulting in the weakening of the heart muscle and increasing of heart chamber volume. This process (known as cardiac remodeling) may eventually cause heart failure when the heart insufficiently supplies the body with oxygenated blood. The study showed that pine tree bark prevents the heart from getting worn out during hypertension. Cardiac chamber walls showed a significantly higher rate of collagen connective tissues than control groups.

“Alternative treatments such as Pycnogenol® are crucial components in the fight against heart disease,” said Dr. Ronald Watson, professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona and a lead researcher of the study. “The effectiveness of Pycnogenol® supplementation is a great option for many people who want an alternative to prescription medications such as beta blockers or ACE inhibitors. This new study shows Pycnogenol® administers a therapeutic effect to limit the degenerative process in patients predisposed to congestive heart failure, such as the aged.”

The study was conducted at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Elderly female mice (18 months old) were randomly divided into four groups: control mice, mice receiving Pycnogenol® only, mice receiving L-NAME only (a substance which causes arterial constriction) and mice receiving both pine tree bark extract and L-NAME. Pine tree bark and L-NAME were administered in tap water and the study was approved by the Animal Review Committee at the University of Arizona.

One group of hypertensive mice received Pycnogenol® in drinking water for four weeks and another group of hypertensive mice was left untreated. After five weeks, the hearts of the latter control group had significantly increased in size as a result of hypertension. In the pine bark extract treated group, hypertension and heart function parameters resembled those found in healthy control mice with healthy blood pressure.

“This study provides evidence that oral administration of Pycnogenol® brand pine bark extract reversed cardiovascular remodeling induced by L-NAME by blocking nitric oxide production, which leads to hypertension and finally cardiomyopathy,” said Watson.

After a detailed investigation of the heart tissue, Watson found French maritime pine bark supplementation to significantly enhance the connective collagen matrix of cardiac tissue. Whereas the chronic hypertension in mice led to a significant loss of connective collagen fibers, Pycnogenol® significantly increased the collagen presence, resulting in stronger cardiac chambers.

According to the American Heart Association nearly five million Americans are living with heart failure, and 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. The mortality rate for heart failure affects 80 percent of men and 70 percent of women within 12 years of obtaining cardiovascular diseases. According to Watson, cardiac remodeling is considered an important therapeutic target to battle this disease.

Watson presented the new research this month at the SupplySide East Educational Conference and Trade Show in Secaucus, NJ. Previous clinical research shows Pycnogenol® to battle coronary heart disease and stroke, high blood cholesterol and hypertension. Research shows Pycnogenol® to diminish the major cardiovascular risk factors simultaneously while offering a safe, natural approach.

Source: S. Zibadi, Q. Yu, P.J. Rohdewald, D.F. Larson, R.R. Impact of Pycnogenol on cardiac extracellular matrix remodeling induced by L-NAME administration to old mice. Watson Cardiovascular Toxicology
Published on-line ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s12012-007-0001-9

Source: Press release May 15, 2007, Horphag

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