Antioxidant plasma concentration and supplementation in carotid intima media thickness

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Cerebrovascular diseases represent a major problem in Western countries. Oxidative stress, an important condition of increased amounts of reactive oxygen species, is now recognized to be a prominent feature of many acute and chronic diseases, and even of the normal aging process. Carotid intima media thickness is an important marker of atherosclerosis that correlates with established coronary heart disease. Changes in carotid intima media thickness, measured by B-mode high-resolution carotid ultrasonography, represent an important and early step in carotid plaque formation and progression and are the most common currently used marker to evaluate the progression of atherosclerotic processes. Several therapeutic strategies have been adopted to slow the early atherosclerotic process in asymptomatic subjects in order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. An additional step to slow the atherosclerotic process may include interventions to decrease newly emerging coronary risk factors, such as oxidative stress and inflammation. Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will provide antioxidant vitamins, and carotenoids, which are believed to inhibit tissue damage derived from oxidative processes and may slow the progression of early atherosclerosis, modify the increase in carotid intima media thickness and, consequently, reduce cardiovascular events. This review synthesizes the published literature regarding antioxidant vitamins plasma concentration and supplementation and carotid intima media thickness.

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