Research Published in Blood Journal Leads to New Human Test for Cardiovascular Disease Risk to Be Presented at American Heart Association Conference ATVB Conference
April 19-21 2007
WASHINGTON -- April 2, 2007 -- A new study published in the April 1, 2007 (volume 109, number 7) issue of Blood, the official journal of the American Society of Hematology, suggests that vitamin K2 provides significant benefits for promoting cardiovascular health. The study shows for the first time that a high intake of vitamin K significantly reverses arterial calcification induced with anti-coagulant medication use.
The animal study, conducted by the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CARIM) and VitaK, Maastricht University, The Netherlands, found that high dose vitamin K not only blocked new arterial calcium buildup, but also reduced existing levels by over 37 percent, within only 6 weeks. The most potent inhibitor of vascular calcification known is matrix GLA protein (MGP), a vitamin K-dependent protein – meaning vitamin K is required to activate this important protein. In humans, oral anticoagulants that interfere with vitamin K (warfarins) block MGP function and induce calcification. Also, inactive MGP levels in blood are an indicator of cardiovascular disease, and a new test has been developed to measure these levels. This new test will be presented at the American Heart Association’s 2007 Annual Conference on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology to be held April 19-21 at the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois.
Calcium buildup in arteries is an early warning sign of increased risk on coronary heart disease in humans. People with higher arterial calcium levels are more likely to develop arteriolosclerosis, stroke and other heart ailments later in life than those with normal levels. Researchers also note as evidence the increased risk of calcium in blood vessels (arterial calcification) associated with cardiovascular disease in people with vitamin K-poor diets.
“The medical community now recognizes that vitamin K-dependent MGP plays an essential role in promoting cardiovascular health,” said lead researcher Leon Schurgers. “Our study shows that in an animal model vitamin K can actually regress preformed calcifications. The health implications for humans are significant, and we have previously published research showing that the highest vitamin K2 intake from dietary sources has been linked to significant reductions in vascular calcification compared to those with the lowest K2 intake.”
In a recent 10-year study of 4,800 elderly people published in the Journal of Nutrition, high vitamin K2 intake was linked to lower coronary heart disease, less aortic calcification and lower all cause mortality. “Research is showing much promise associated with vitamin K intake and heart health, and people should be encouraged to discuss vitamin K use with their physician,” added Dr. Schurgers.
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About CArdiovascular Research Institute (CARIM) and VitaK, Maastricht University
CArdiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM) is the leading cardiovascular disease research institution of Maastricht University, The Netherlands. The three main areas of research within the institute are as follows: (1) thrombosis and hemostatis, (2) functioning of the normal and failing heart and (3) research on vascular biology of both large and small vessels. All three themes of research involve fundamental as well as clinical studies. The institute has expertise in a wide range of areas, ranging from molecular biology to population-based studies. Its goal is to focus on clinically important questions, integrating knowledge from molecule to patient.
VitaK, BV. is a wholly-owned company of the University of Maastricht, a research-company with a long expertise in all aspects of vitamin K and vitamin K-dependent proteins, including the detection of all forms of vitamin K in nutrients, tissue and serum as well as the detection of different conformations of the vitamin K-dependent proteins osteocalcin and matrix Gla-protein (MGP). It is a research company in which promising fundamental and applied research is performed, for example on osteoporosis prevention, vascular health and diagnostics