Seaweed Juice may save Heart Attack patients?
An Australian grandmother had a liquid derived from seaweed injected into her heart, in a world-first procedure poised to dramatically boost heart attack survival rates. Pauline Fulton underwent the treatment in a Melbourne hospital two weeks ago, two days after she suffered a major heart attack. Dr. William van Gaal, a cardiologist who performed the procedure, said it could revolutionize treatment for heart attack patients and save lives.
But it was hoped the liquid, bio-absorbable cardiac matrix, would prevent the heart enlarging, and heart failure developing.
In the 30-minute procedure, van Gaal injected 0.13 fluid ounces of the “liquid device” into the blocked artery, which was absorbed by the damaged heart muscle.
It then formed a gel that acted as a scaffold to support the heart muscle as it recovered and prevented the organ becoming bigger, he said. After six weeks, the liquid device, which had no side-effects, would dissolve and be excreted from the body through the kidneys.
Standard treatment was to give patients tablets to prevent their heart enlarging, but they were not always effective, van Gaal said.
Fulton, 64, became the first of 300 patients who will have the experimental treatment in a worldwide study.
It could be routine treatment within three years, van Gaal said.
Seaweed for the Heart
Seaweed has only been used for medicinal purposes for many years however researchers at Teagasc have been investigating lipids from a variety of Irish and Canadian seaweed species for their heart-health properties.
In both Ireland and Canada seaweeds have a long tradition of use. In Ireland, for example, approximately 36,000 tonnes of seaweed are harvested annually. Seaweed species of commercial interest in Ireland include Laminaria digitata and Fucus species (Fucus vesiculosus, Fucus serratus and Fucus spiralis), which are harvested primarily for their valuable carbohydrates, Laminarin and Fucoidan, respectively. The value-added sector of the seaweed industry in Ireland has emerged to produce attractive, high-quality products for use as functional body care products and cosmetics.
However, there is, to date, limited activity aimed at exploiting Irish seaweed resources as materials for functional food ingredients with enhanced health benefits that go beyond basic nutrition for the consumer.
Seaweeds are known to contain a number of heart-health compounds, including ACE inhibitors, antioxidants and essential fatty acids (lipids). As part of a research collaboration with the Memorial University, Newfoundland, Michelle Tierney and Dr Maria Hayes developed methods for the isolation of total lipids from a number of seaweed species.
“Seaweeds are a known source of essential fatty acids, which are thought to reduce thrombosis and atherosclerosis — factors important in the reduction of the risk of heart disease,” explains Dr Hayes.
Of the eight Irish and Newfoundland seaweed species used in this study, the Irish seaweed, Pelvetia canaliculata, had the highest percentage of total lipids per dry weight, followed by the sustainable Irish seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum. Further work is currently underway at the Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown, concerning the bioactivity profiles and bioactive component isolation of all seaweed lipid extracts.
“These lipids could potentially be used in food vehicles such as bread and soup type products in the future,” said Dr Hayes.
Now before you go down to the beach and harvest your own seaweed ask yourself how clean the water is? Seaweed extract is found in many supplements and due to its properties as a Heart Failure patient you will need to make your clinician aware whether it be Nurse or Doctor that you are taking supplements as some supplements can have an affect on prescription medication.