NEW YORK Vitamin E supplements can significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and related deaths for diabetics who carry a particular version of a gene, according to a report released Friday by researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the Clalit Health Services in Israel.
After 18 months of treatment, people with the haptoglobin 2-2 gene who took 400 International Units of vitamin E daily had more than 50 percent fewer heart attacks, strokes and related deaths than Hp 2-2 patients who took a placebo pill. As many as 40 percent of diabetics carry the Hp 2-2 gene.
The findings were published in the November 21 online edition of the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.
Most of the difference came from the reduced number of heart attacks among those taking vitamin E. In the group of 1,434 Hp 2-2 individuals taking part in the study, seven people had a heart attack, compared to 17 who did not take the vitamin. Dr. Andrew Levy, of the Technion Faculty of Medicine, said there were no side effects observed in patients who took vitamin E.
The study suggests that genetic testing for Hp 2-2 “may be useful to identify a large group of diabetes individuals who could potentially derive cardiovascular benefit from a very inexpensive treatment,” Levy said.