Spice Lowers Heart Attack Risk After Surgery

Turmeric associated with reduced heart attacks following coronary bypass surgery

April 17, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) An Indian spice popular in curry appears to offer the heart a protective benefit following coronary artery bypass grafting. New research suggests turmeric may help prevent heart attacks after the operation.

Bypass patients are at a heightened risk of a heart attack following surgery if the heart was injured by a lack of blood flow during the procedure.

"Call 9-1-1 if you experience chest pain."

Wanwarang Wongcharoen, MD, part of the faculty of medicine at Chiang Mai University in Thailand and lead researcher, found that curcuminoids, which give turmeric its yellow color, may significantly decrease the risk of heart attack in conjunction with traditional medical therapies.

Previous studies suggested that the compound contained in the spice may reduce inflammation.

During the study researchers enrolled 121 consecutive patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery. The participants received either a placebo or four daily grams of curcuminoids beginning three days before the procedure and ending five days afterward in addition to traditional medical care. The average age of the patients was 61 years old.

On-pump bypass surgery, performed on a stopped heart with the assistance of a heart and lung machine, was performed in 51 percent of patients.

Investigators found that while 30 percent in the placebo group had heart attacks following the procedure, only 13 percent of the group that received turmeric experienced a heart attack, a significant difference. After adjusting for various factors, they determined that patients who took the spice had a 65 percent reduced risk of a heart attack.

Researchers also found through blood tests that markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, including C-reactive protein, were lower in the group that received turmeric. They suggest that curcuminoids may protect the heart through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

The study was recently published in The American Journal of Cardiology.