Northern Ireland

UU vitamin research combats stroke risk

Dr Carol Wilson said research results focused on non-drug treatment of high blood pressure
Image caption Dr Carol Wilson said research results focused on non-drug treatment of high blood pressure

Vitamin B2, which is found in dairy products, can help lower high blood pressure, according to research by the University of Ulster.

UU nutrition experts said one in ten people, depending on their genes, could significantly lower their blood pressure by increased use of the B2.

High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and heart disease.

Together, they are responsible for about one-third of all deaths in Northern Ireland.

The UU said B2, also known as riboflavin, reduced high blood pressure which is often linked to a particular genetic factor found in 10% of the population.

The research was conducted by Dr Carol Wilson in conjunction with staff at Antrim and Altnagelvin Hospitals and Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Wilson said: "These findings are so exciting because they focus on novel non-drug treatment for high blood pressure, targeted at individuals with a particular genetic factor.

"The blood pressure-lowering response described in this research paper is hugely relevant in terms of its clinical implications."

In Western societies, milk and other dairy products account for more than 50% of riboflavin intake, along with some fortified products such as breakfast cereals and other foods.

"In the genetically at-risk group, vitamin B2 was able to lower blood pressure to within recommended target values while having no adverse effects on individuals who didn't have the gene," Dr Wilson said.

"The response occurred irrespective of any blood pressure-lowering drugs being taken by the study participants.

"The extent of blood pressure reduction translates into a 30% predicted reduction in the risk of stroke death in the at-risk group.

"It would take about 10 kilos of weight loss to achieve the blood pressure lowering that was reported in our findings."