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Circulation. 2000 Sep 12;102(11):1233-8.

Coronary heart disease in smokers: vitamin C restores coronary microcirculatory function.

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MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.



Coronary endothelial function and vasomotion are impaired in smokers without coronary disease, and this is thought to be due to increased oxidative stress.


We used positron emission tomography to measure the coronary flow reserve, an integrated measure of coronary flow, through both the large epicardial coronary arteries and the microcirculation in 11 smokers and 8 control subjects before and after administration of the antioxidant vitamin C. At baseline, coronary flow reserve was reduced by 21% in smokers compared with control subjects (P:<0.05) but was normalized after vitamin C, whereas the drug had no effect in control subjects.


The present study is the first to demonstrate that the noxious prooxidant effects of smoking extend beyond the epicardial arteries to the coronary microcirculation and affect the regulation of myocardial blood flow. Vitamin C restores coronary microcirculatory responsiveness and impaired coronary flow reserve in smokers, which provides evidence that the damaging effect of smoking is at least in part accounted for by an increased oxidative stress.

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