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Is l-arginine dangerous after heart attack?

Recent headlines declare that l-arginine is dangerous for your heart if taken
after a heart attack. Is this true? Should you stop your l-arginine?

Nitric oxide is the master control molecule over arterial health. It regulates tone (dilation vs. constriction), inflammation, cell adhesion, and protein production. Prescription medications that increase nitric oxide have yielded important treatments for erectile dysfunction (Viagra®), high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors like lisinopril and captopril), and most recently Bidil® (a combination of hydralazine and nitroglycerin). The ACE inhibitors and Bidil have both proven useful for reducing breathless symptoms and death from heart failure, and for improving heart muscle strength. Much of this benefit is believed to develop from the nitric oxide-enhancing effects of these drugs.1,2

A University of Maryland group recently explored whether the nitric oxide increasing properties of l-arginine exerts similar benefits. L-arginine, after all, is the body’s immediate source for nitric oxide. In their VINTAGE MI study, 153 participants were enrolled, all of whom had suffered a recent heart attack. Half of the participants were assigned to receive three grams three times per day of l-arginine; half received placebo. To the surprise of the University of Maryland researchers, over the next several months six deaths occurred in the group receiving l-arginine, none in the placebo group.3

The media, always hungry for a sensational headline, seized hold of this, declaring l-arginine a deadly supplement.

Should we panic and stop l-arginine based on this report?

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Copyright 2006, Track Your Plaque.