LSU professor uses red wine compounds for heart disease treatment

Halen Doughty

Red wine has once again proven to be good for heart health. An LSU professor is harnessing antioxidant compounds found in red wine to advance the treatment of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

Heart disease occurs when plaque build up within artery walls blocks the blood flow through tissues in the body. This blockage increases the risk for heart attack or stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 630,000 people die each year from heart disease.

There is no singular cure for heart disease, but there are numerous treatments including lifestyle changes and surgical procedures. One of those procedures is a coronary angioplasty, where a surgeon inserts and inflates a tiny balloon inside a blocked artery to widen it and all blood flow, thereby decreasing the risk of heart attack or stroke. This procedure often includes inserting a permanent mesh tube called a stent to support the blood vessel.

Commercial stents can release toxic chemotherapy agents that can cause the blood vessel to narrow again. LSU Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences Professor Dr. Tammy Dugas is developing a new stent that slowly releases red wine antioxidants over time. These antioxidants promote healing and prevent blood clots and inflammation. The two compounds are resveratrol and quercetin.

“By delivering red wine antioxidants during conventional angioplasty, it may be possible to prevent excess tissue from building up and the blood vessel from narrowing again as it heals,” Dugas said.

Dugas and colleagues are also developing a balloon coated with these compounds to treat blood flow blockages throughout the body called peripheral artery disease. This disease can limit the blood flow to kidneys, the stomach, arms or legs. It affects about 8 to 12 million Americans. However, less than 20 percent are diagnosed by a physician. Drug-coated balloons are relatively new and are being developed to help interventional cardiologists treat arteries that are difficult to target with traditional stent treatments and angioplasty.

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