Between 60 and 75% of Americans die from cardiovascular disease caused in part by diabetes.86 Several animal studies involving rat models of diabetes (including types caused by genetic factors) showed that resveratrol reduces blood glucose and some types of cholesterol. In addition, resveratrol demonstrated the following benefits, some even in obese models of type-2 diabetes and those with high-calorie diets:21

  • Inhibited increases in blood pressure.
  • Prevented cardiac hypertrophy.
  • Reduced oxidative stress.
  • Decreased death of cells in hearts with restored blood flow.

Longer-term animal model of diabetes have demonstrated that resveratrol also relaxes the muscles in artery walls, which dilates them and can lower blood pressure.45 Resveratrol may also help improve vascular capacity in areas where diabetes has caused injury to blood vessels. This could prove especially important for diabetics since injury to blood vessels can also lead to kidney disease.103

Improving Outcomes After a Heart Attack

Resveratrol seems to synergistically increase the ability of transplanted bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells (BMMCs) to help the recovery of blood flow to injured areas. The study suggested resveratrol’s beneficial assistance may have been by reducing production of free radicals while stimulating production of proteins that encourage new blood vessels to develop.104

Insulin May Counteract Benefits of Resveratrol After a Heart Attack

Recent animal studies indicate that combining resveratrol with insulin may prevent heart dysfunction associated with diabetes. It also appears to improve mortality rates in those who already have injury to the myocardium. Interestingly, however, already-injured animals treated with resveratrol alone had significantly better outcomes (both in mortality and recovery of heart function) than those treated with both insulin and resveratrol. When the combination treatment was given to animals who had suffered a heart attack, the insulin seemed to counteract the beneficial effects of resveratrol.105

Called myocardial ischemic reperfusion injuries, these injuries refer to the damage to the heart muscle that often occurs when blood flow is restored to an area of the heart after an initial injury (e.g., a heart attack).106 In other words, the life-saving treatment often comes with additional damage to the heart beyond the original cardiac event. Trying to limit this damage is an active area of research which unfortunately has yielded less-than-promising outcomes—making the positive results of these preliminary resveratrol studies that much more significant.

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Thickening of the heart muscle, which can cause cardiac dysfunction.
Cardiac muscle.

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