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Researchers identify how to improve postmenopausal vascular function

Researchers identify how to improve postmenopausal vascular function
15th February 2012

Researchers have identified a critical element that could prove key in improving the vascular function of postmenopausal women.

A specific chemical cofactor to boost the production of nitric oxide could reduce arterial stiffness, which is common in older women.

The study at the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) plays a key role in arterial health and is a critical cofactor of the enzyme endothelial nitric oxide synthase or eNOS.

Combined, the two chemicals create nitric oxide which helps keep the heart healthy.

Nitric oxide is a gas that turns on the chemical pathways that relax blood vessels to increase blood flow and activate survival pathways.

Dr Kerrie Moreau, leader of the study, elaborated: "Nitric oxide causes arteries to dilate, without it they are more constricted which can lead to arterial stiffening."

This can lead to stroke, heart disease and dementia.

However, administering BH4 to postmenopausal women was found to increase the dilation of arteries.

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