Taking a glass of beetroot juice every day can reduce the risk of heart attacks in angina patients, researchers have found.

Angina or chest pain is a common symptom of coronary artery disease caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. A percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or angioplasty stent is often used in angina patients to open up blood vessels narrowed by plaque buildup.

In the latest study, researchers found that 16% of angina patients with implanted stents had a chance of heart attack or needed another procedure within two years of PCI. However, when the patients drank beetroot juice daily, the risk dropped to 7.5%.

The risk of stented blood vessel narrowing again due to a condition called restenosis was around 10% within five years of PCI. But the trial showed that stent failure can be considerably reduced with a daily intake of beetroot juice, thereby cutting down the chances of another PCI or more invasive coronary bypass surgery later.

When the width of blood vessels was measured six months after the procedure, the patients who had beetroot juice regularly showed only half as much narrowing as those who took the placebo treatment.

Inorganic nitrate present in beetroot juice is protecting the heart.

"Experiments in the lab suggested that the inorganic nitrate, which is found naturally in beetroot juice, would have these effects and it is very encouraging to see it create such a big improvement in the clinic for angina patients," said Krishnaraj Rathod, clinical senior lecturer at the William Harvey Research Institute, who led the trial.

"Our patients liked that their treatment was a completely natural product that has no significant side effects. We will now take this to the next stage of trials in the hope that doctors can soon prescribe beetroot juice to ensure stents last longer to provide even more effective relief of symptoms," Rathod added.

The findings of the trial, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research and the British Heart Foundation (BHF), were presented at the British Cardiovascular Society conference in Manchester, the U.K.

beetroot juice
Taking a glass of beetroot juice every day reduces the risk of heart attacks in angina patients, research has found. Pixabay