Cocoa may help stop stroke, heart disease

Aug. 10, 2005 at 5:31 PM
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SYDNEY, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Cocoa has long been described as a medicine for many ailments and now researchers say it might also have a beneficial effect on heart disease and stroke.

A research team in Southampton, England, led by Dr. Denise O'Shaugnessy has shown drinking a cup of cocoa can prevent potentially fatal blood clots by inhibiting platelet function.

When blood clots lodge in our brain or heart there are potentially fatal consequences, such as stroke or heart attack. The blood cells called platelets are necessary for clotting to occur.

"Cocoa contains a substance called flavonoids, which are also present in red wine," explained O'Shaugnessy. "Flavonoids can be preventive for coronary heart disease; however our research has uncovered another ingredient in cocoa which may be responsible for the platelet inhibition.

"This finding may well lead to important new therapies to prevent heart disease and stroke. But it may also mean that a nice hot cup of cocoa may also take on new importance for people in high risk categories."

The study was presented this week during the 20th Congress of the International Society on Thrombosis & Haemostasis, being held in Sydney, Australia.

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